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Saturday, January 10, 2015

What's Going on With Muslims in France?

The recent shootings in Paris have raised once again the question of the integration--or lack thereof--of Muslims in France. And, of course, they came on the heels of anti-immigrant rallies in Germany. In this context, Abu Daoud brought an article to my attention that speaks to some of these issues. It was written by Eric Kaufman of Birkbeck College, University of London back in 2010, but most of the facts are unlikely to have changed much in the meantime. I commented on Kaufman's book--referenced in his article--a few months ago and so here I will focus on the things he says about France
French Muslims of Algerian descent, many of whom, like footballer Zinedine Zidane, are Berber and not Arab, are far more secular and likely to marry out than other Muslim groups. Over half of Franco-Algerian men marry non-Muslims and 60 per cent of French people with at least one Algerian parent say they have no religion. In Germany, Iranian Muslims, many of whom come from anti-Islamist families, tend to be less religious than other groups. A third claim to be completely secular and almost three-quarters never attend religious events. Balkan and central Asian Muslims in Germany also tend to be less religious. But even within Muslim ethnic groups, the study finds an important polarisation between the devout who pray daily and the equally large number who never pray. This divide maps on to fertility: the most devout Muslim women in Europe are 40 per cent more likely than the least pious to bear three or more children. In the large cities of the Muslim world, women most in favour of sharia bear twice as many children as those most opposed.
This last point is an important one, because France has had for a long time a policy of allowing "no-go" zones--immigrant enclaves where the police don't go, permitting those residents to organize their own lives as they see fit. This is a point made a few years ago by Christopher Caldwell in his book on "Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West," and it has come up repeatedly in articles published by the Gatestone Institute in New York. In other words, rather than encouraging and facilitating adaptation, integration, and assimilation, France has had an implicit policy that encourages separateness. This is very likely to encourage more traditional behavior in these neighborhoods, possibly even including the local imposition of Sharia Law, as Fox News has claimed.  I do not know, of course, that any of this played a specific role in the recent shootings in Paris, but it seems to me that this sets up a situation that breaks the bonds that might exist between immigrants, and especially the children of immigrants, and the host society, thus increasing the chances that anti-social attacks might take place.


  1. John - A particularly important post. I had a discussion this past weekend at my training gym .. with some guys who are security specialists. Some of them are policemen, some are specialists who have been to France and visited the zones that you describe. YES - the situation exists in France where Algerian immigrants have re-created an "Algeria Inside Paris". And other French cities as well. But unlike America, these zones are completely separate - they are no-go zones. Ordinary people such as you and me dare NOT walk into some of these places. We will be assaulted or stabbed to death. Literally. There is an entirely separate culture existing inside parts of French cities.

    This approach to handling immigrants is completely different from the USA. Yes, we have "China Town", "Little Italy", "Korea Town" etc. These places have foreign culture. But they are still American. Our laws and norms of behavior still apply there. But in France, the Algerian zones are literally inaccessible to outsiders. Strangers who go too far inside - could be killed.

    How on Earth does a country like France co-exist with such a relationship -with its own people? I have no idea. But I imagine that a lot of Frenchman and French women must be wondering the same thing - this week.

    Pete, Redondo Beach

    1. Thanks for the verification of these no-go zones. It is hard to imagine what the French have been thinking. This was presumably an attempt initially to be open-minded, but the minds seem to have opened so far that the brains fell out...