“This came up in class the other day and it stirred up a lot of different thoughts, so here goes—-
“La France est une République indivisible, laïque, démocratique et sociale.”
TRANSLATION: France is an indivisible, secular, democratic and social republic.
Article 1 of the French constitution, and the French pride themselves on guarding those traits.
Secularism? The concept of laïcité was OFFICIALLY instated in 1905 when separation of church and state became viable by law. Since then, the French have been doing their part on “strictly” upholding this secularism. But, I think they’re just kidding themselves.
Per Constantine I, the French have adopted the Roman doctrine of refraining from work on Sundays. But, they’ve taken it one step further than Ole’ Const’ by making it AGAINST THE LAW for businesses to open on Sundays. The law. Why? Why because Sunday is the “Lord’s Day.” It is holy and it must be respected (you are evil and you must be destroyed). Apart from markets, Sunday is best identified in my mind by the constant chiming of the church and cathedral bells. Everything is closed, grocery stores, government buildings, public libraries…school libraries…
Museums stay open, as do SOME cafés around touristic hubs… which is interesting, but it’s probably because they would face so many losses if they shut down. What would the tourists do?
Case numero dos: Same sex couples do not have the right to get married. Wait…it’s not that they don’t have the right… it’s that there’s a LAW stating that it is illegal for them to get married. There is no such thing as domestic partnership either (ie, civil unions). The reasoning: the church does not support same-sex unions; ergo, no ceremony for two people of the same sex. ergo. OK. Then go through this “secular” state. No can do. The state will not perform unions for homosexual couples. Why? Although secular, France still has Christian roots and healthy ties with its religious commissaries. They don’t want no trouble with the big guy upstairs…
From a completely different angle comes this: while the French are in no hurry to give up these “Christian roots,” they make it virtually impossible for other religions to play their part comfortably in this society. The new wave of immigrants (and the old wave, and the even OLDER wave) practicing other religions have difficult times assimilating to the French lifestyle. And in my opinion, the French… the “vrai” French, would like to keep it this way.
Immigrants from Northern Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, being the main three) have built rather large communities here (Paris and its suburbs). Walking down the streets, I hear Arabic being spoken just as much as I hear French. The Marais is filled with shops and restaurants run by Arab men and women.
There is such a huge potential for an AMAZING Arab-French fusion. They have the ability to build a great new culture. And yet, the French denounce this culture again and again.
There has been a long-running argument about religious relics being worn in school. France says no. No hejabs, no kippas, no crosses, etc. But of course, that’s a problem for a lot of people. Young girls have gone to school wearing the hejab, only to be sent home again. But, their parents cant very well keep them home from school now, can they?
Freedom of religion in this secular society has caused wayyyyy more problems than originally anticipated.
Moreover, apart from a religious point of view, Parisians have kept the immigrants at an arms-length by completely pushing them OUT of the city. Go to any suburb of Paris (save maybe two or three) and you will see that it is filled with ONLY immigrants. They come in, only to be pushed out. They’re labeled as “banlieusards,” and they are frowned upon in the city. I mean talk about creating a sense of hostility, the Parisians are totally stirring the pot!
You know, everything in the world is ever-changing, ever-evolving. The Parisians are trying SO hard to keep hold of the culture they used to be famous for. The philosophers, artists, writers, walking around the avenues of Paris creating masterpieces, practically singing their ideas and theories to the world. They want to keep a sense of who there were before–the Parisians who broke into the Bastille and sought their independence from the monarchy. The Parisians who protested their rights and equality on the streets of Paris during the Communards. They want to be famous for producing thinkers like Sartre, writers like Proust, artists like Monet… and they’re so keen on holding on to the past, that they can’t see what a wonder a future of new Parisian culture can become.
I just completely went from secularism to cultural acceptance, but they work hand in hand if you think about it. I mean, there can be secularism without all the hussle and bussle that France is creating. And without the hussle and bussle, people can put their energy into rebuilding Paris into a cultural hub.”
The link is here.