France takes centre stage in the clash of civilisations

France takes centre stage in the clash of civilisations, by Henry Ergas.

[T]he conflict between the ideals of the French revolution and Islamic fundamentalism’s world-view is as obvious as the differences are irreconcilable. The revolution extolled reason; the fundamentalists worship at the alter of apocalyptic irrationality. And the revolution proclaimed (although it often failed to respect) freedom, including freedom of religion; the fundamentalists seek a caliphate in which only the laws of Islam prevail.

But the revolution also established an enduring concept of citizenship that underpinned the French nation, “one and indivisible”. Far more than any other European country, it was open to foreigners; it demanded, however, that they join the nation on its terms. As Michael Walzer put it, “foreigners were welcomed — so long as they learned the French language, committed themselves to the republic, sent their children to state schools, and celebrated Bastille Day”.

It was equally insistent on what they were not to do: isolate themselves in ethnic enclaves that clashed with the broader community of citizens. …

That principle — that citizenship was not a mere scrap of paper but a personal act of adherence to the country’s norms and trad­itions — proved remarkably successful, integrating generations of immigrants who were happy to call themselves French citizens.

However, as France has grappled with its 4.7 million Muslims, it has completely broken down. …

As young Muslims have become more religious, they have become stricter in observing dietary and dress requirements and in placing emphasis on religious instruction. Meanwhile, intermarriage rates between Muslims and non-Muslims remain extremely low, both absolutely and relative to intermarriage rates overall.

There is, in other words, a growing divide between France’s Muslim and non-Muslim populations.

Incompatible cultures seem to be better off in separate countries. Surely a Frenchman’s allegiance should be to the French constitution and world-view, rather than to Sharia law and Islamic totalitarianism.

hat-tip Stephen Neil