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French suburbs turn away from state and towards Islam

AFP · 6 Oct 2011, 15:26

Published: 06 Oct 2011 15:26 GMT+02:00

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Local communities in France's immigrant suburbs increasingly organise themselves on Islamic lines rather than following the values of the secular republic, according to a major new sociological study.

Respected political scientist Gilles Kepel, a specialist in the Muslim world, led a team of researchers in a year-long project in Clichy-sous-Bois and Montfermeil, two Paris suburbs that exploded in riots in 2005.

The resulting study -- "Suburbs of the Republic" -- found that religious institutions and practices are increasingly displacing those of the state and the French Republic, which has a strong secular tradition.

Families from the districts, which are mainly populated by immigrants from north and west Africa and their descendants, regularly attend mosque, fast during Ramadan and boycott school meals that are not "halal".

With between five and six million Muslim residents and citizens, France has the largest Islamic population in the European Union, and central government often struggles to address the challenges to integration that this poses.

Kepel performed a similar study 25 years earlier, and told the daily Le Monde that the influence of Islam in the daily lives and cultural references of the suburbs has "diversified and intensified" since then.

French schools, which are rigorously non-religious, have traditionally been seen as having the role of training young citizens of the republic, but local officials say Islamic pupils are heading home for a halal lunch.

"A certain number of children don't come to the canteen any more or, if they come, they only take a starter and dessert," Xavier Lemoine, the centre-right mayor of Monfermeil, told Europe 1 radio.

Surveys suggest most in France do not object to mixed marriages, but in the suburbs the researchers were surprised to find "a very large proportion of Muslim respondents said they were opposed to marriages with non-Muslims."

The researchers also delved into the reasons behind the 2005 riots, which they said had called into question modern France's founding myth, "the implicit shared belief that the nation was always able to integrate people."

While the resentment in the poor suburbs has social roots, essentially the residents' virtual exclusion from a tight jobs market, the rioters expressed frustration in a vocabulary "borrowed from Islam's semantic register."

Islamic values are replacing those of a republic which failed to deliver on its promise of "equality", and the residents of the suburbs increasingly do not see themselves as French, the researchers said.

"One of the reasons for the strong role of Islam is that the Republic has withdrawn," warned Claude Dilain, the Socialist mayor of Clichy. "Those who felt abandoned seek another identity, and Islam satisfies that well."

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But the report does not support the idea that the state has simply pulled back, to be replaced by Islam. The Clichy-Monfermeil agglomeration has been at the centre of one of France's biggest urban renewal programmes.

Many physical barriers to integration have been removed, with efforts made to plug the area into public transport networks and improve public safety -- but unemployment and low school achievement remain high.

A third of the population of the town does not hold French nationality, and many residents are drawn to an Islamic identity rather than simply rejecting or failing to find a secular one.

Kepel's study was commissioned by the Institut Montaigne, which will make recommendations in January. The author warns: "France's future depends on its ability to re-integrate the suburbs into the national project."

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Your comments about this article

2011-10-12 17:31:49 by nathan45
If 10 to 15% are unemployed why do we need immigrants? Restructure the economy and not allow people to live on benifets so long and they will find work there is always work! If your too lazy to do a job that might not be your cup of tea I guess your out of luck go starve. I dont think the safety of our people and our culture are quite worth a bunch of third world religious crazys to work at our fast food joints more fast food restaurants and corner stores dont make a better economy it just looks good for the government when they can say they created this many jobs.
2011-10-11 11:29:22 by merlu free
All those brilliant comments about islamic immigration in France, and what now about European immigration in...Algeria. Are we able to make a living in that country ? How to cope with the hostility of the locals ?
2011-10-11 04:19:34 by nathan45
@BENNY C: First off my comment is in no way an insult to French history mass immigration its self is an insult to the French people. If the native population of a country has a declining population and millions of immigrants are brought in eventually the native people are going to be close to extinction. In Canada the government said that in 20 years 1 in 3 will be a minority so in 40 years who becomes the minority the Canadians and the numbers are similar for other western nations I personaly dont want to see western culture and the white race disapear.
2011-10-09 23:51:03 by BENNY C
@nathan45: 'We can run our countries without mass immigration??????? Your comment is in itself an insult to the history of France. France has always been a big salad bowl that could survive thanks to people who were brought from abroad! And don't forget that the vast majority of 'this mass imigration' comes from formerly French dominions: they have total legitimacy to establish in this country. And when you wrote 'We can run our countries...', don't forget that without the soldiers from formerly French Africa, Britain, The US, Australias, France would have still been a nazi province! @FranceIsDying: I'm surprised by your comments. The content tells a lot about paranoia. And yet, France is full of trained shrinks.
2011-10-08 18:18:09 by shiraz
So allow me to clarify what one wrote earlier. We want to assimilate Muslims in a nice , gentle, loving way. NOT the Spanish Inquisition way. We are OK with the outcome of the inquisition (complete removal of a terrible evil) but the method and means was forceful and involved strife and we would like to be more sophisticated this time around. Despite the excesses of the Inquisition the RC church today is far more enlightened and one thinks we can trust them. We ought to encourage the RC church to embrace goodness, generosity, liberality in their views so they set the Roman Catholics free and then help the Muslims become more loving and forgiving. France being a secular republic ought to be careful perhaps in dealing with the church but having said that we feel that not just Muslims but every nation on earth is trying to be as prosperous, as loved , as blessed as the Europeans , Americans. The N. Africans and the Muslims (the majority of them) ought to be and are grateful for being in the west. But we have to understand that even though they speak French they have a completely different way of thinking. They must make an effort and they have (by learning French and freakin swimming across the mediterranean to be with the French) but it is also the responsibility of France to set up a department that deals solely with assimilating these new immigrants. This department must identify the "micro tyrants" in the micro cosms (small units like families, extended families). These tyrants use children and women and men to serve their ends through psychological, physical, verbal abuse. The more sophisticated amongst them use sorcery. Now it is the duty of a secular and scientific republic to target and combat these tyrants because they are essentially using their husbands/wives/sons/daughters against the state to self aggrandize. It is these tyrants who are preventing the assimilation of the individuals along with the tyrants on the French side who don't want to see Muslims assimilate. There is perhaps likely to be someone in a host country who is threatened by a new immigrant and wants them to remain in their ghetto to be used and abused by those who are "truly french". So we have to remove the hurdles on both sides, perhaps.
2011-10-08 05:41:06 by shiraz
Muslims are practicing Islam in France or the west for various reasons : (1) it gives them structure in a world they don't understand (2) it gives them a sense of accomplishment (even in a small way by praying on time or fasting or observing dietary laws) which they may not be otherwise able to attain by going to school or working (due to discrimination) (3) it gives them a network and a support system which they are unlikely to find in France since they may be immigrants. All these problems are easily solvable by those who know. The Roman Catholics are perhaps the best at integrating / assimilating a people. You need to do the following (1) bring the young over, give them a MORAL education (not religious but moral and ethical) and teach them that their freedom is a rare thing that they can preserve if they continue to be good, be studious and reach their goals through education and other state structures (2) support the young in their attempt to break free and keep their distance from their families - if they want to go back to their families to help reform / modernize them then help them out in that effort by ensuring that they get the right support. (3) empower the assimilated to extend their reach to their homelands and beyond . The Muslim countries are already doing this and more to counter western influence. They support / pay and subsidize their agents with oil money. Gaddafi used to entice women in Italy with jobs and other comforts if they converted to Islam. Again the best defense/ intelligence against this primitive way is the Roman Catholic church (despite her faults) . They overcame them before in Spain and they will be able to do it again everywhere : including N. Africa, Middle East and Asia. The problem however is that the Islamic lands are often used by some as receptacles of the worst elements in western society (we send the worst men and women over there when we should be reforming them gently, lovingly). Some have a vested in keeping Islam the way it is because they want to use Muslims as proxy warriors in their infighting (against Russia or what not). The west has to be united in this effort and they can count on the Chinese, the Indians , the Japanese and even the Jews. The Jews have been yearning to assimilate for centuries and some of them do so quite successfully. If the Jews can do it then so can the Muslims. May the good and loving ways triumph and may the draconian, harsh, hard ways of those who use their religion to do harm come to an end.
2011-10-07 15:18:06 by DavidtheNorseman
@nathan45 - I agree. I think the authorities thought they'd import them, change them, ship numbers of them back as leaders of their former groups and change their home countries by doing so. Islam has always historically been incompatible with any other system and forcefully so. When proponents of it talk about toleration it is always implicitly in the context of dhimmitude where the indigenous groups are slaves to their Islamic masters. The problem with the above article is that it doesn't address issues of violence, crime or terrorism...just school lunches and the right to go hear a spiritual teacher of choice - not issues of any cause for alarm. From the above you'd think they were Mennonites.......
2011-10-07 04:35:44 by nathan45
This just reinforces the need to stop bringing these people to our nations they riot and place a threat on our security. If they are having these issues you all know its a breeding ground for home grown terrorism. We can run our countries without mass immigration we just need restructuring it will be difficult but can we afford not to at the cost of our culture and safety what happins if we have a global disaster and there is a food shortage you are going to be competing with 5 million extra people for survival who arent even native to the country.
2011-10-06 20:10:22 by DavidtheNorseman
The article seems a bit difficult. "regularly attend mosque, fast during Ramadan and boycott school meals that are not "halal"." are not threats to the French Republic provided that they aren't forcing anyone else to do likewise, n'est pas? So they fail to accept atheism. French Roman Catholics go to their services and the more serious don't eat meat on Fridays (or used to) and yet consider themselves French, don't they? I'm not seeing the threat to anything except secular humanism and France was around a long time before it and will be around a long time after it is a past embarrassment. This isn't an endorsement for an Islamic Republic of France which IMHO would be a bad thing, but to cause unrest over non-issues seems unnecessary.
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