A bill is intended to strengthen secularity. But in France, Islam is not only viewed by the right as a foreign religion, says Alain Policar.
taz: Mr. Policar, France seems to have a problem with the integration of Islam because of its tradition of strict secularism. Why actually?
Alain Policar: Historically, secularism in France since the law of 1905 has initially been a non-intervention by the state in the sense of a secular-liberal separation of politics from theology and religion. Cooperation or dialogue between the state and denominations was not planned. The state retains its primacy. The law of the republic therefore takes precedence over confessional rules. This is a clear difference to multiculturalist countries, in which institutionalized cooperation is the basis of the relationship between the state and religions.
And what’s the problem?
A century ago no one thought that one day there would be between five and seven million Muslims living in the country, not all of whom grew up in this tradition of the basic secular understanding of state and religion. Islam faces difficulties in seeing the relationship between state and religion in this secular way. There are differences compared to the locally established and predominantly Christian religion.
The design In February, the French parliament passed the law “Strengthening the Principles of the Republic”, with which the government wants to better control Islamism. The Senate in Paris will deal with it until Thursday.
Consequences After the murder of the teacher Samuel Paty, among other things, hate calls on the Internet or in mosques are to be punished more severely. In addition, the government wants to limit the influence of Turkey and other countries on French mosques.
criticism Right-wing extremists and right-wing extremists are not going far enough. For example, they are calling for bans on wearing the headscarf in public spaces. Left and some Islamic associations see the law as an expression of Islamophobia and fear stigmatization. (epd, afp)
And are these differences insurmountable?
Some define this as a problem of civilization and exaggerate it – these are temporary difficulties that can be resolved over time. Islam is considered a foreign religion. Especially on the right, but also in the so-called republican left, there are fears that something will be brought in from outside that is incompatible with French civilization and culture. These political forces represent a militant secularity. Behind this is the idea of a national identity to which everyone would have to adapt.
In France, a bill is currently being debated in parliament, the stated purpose of which is to strengthen secularism. Are today’s rules not working?
The government assumes that the secular rules are threatened by an unclearly identified enemy. The current polemic about “Islamo-gauchisme” is indicative of this. (in German about “Islam-Linke”, editor’s note). Who do you mean? Islamist terrorists and accomplices of such enemies of the state, Muslim left, left in solidarity with Muslims? I see an unpleasant strategy behind this, in the manner of Donald Trump to determine an internal enemy and to discredit political opponents as his allies. Specifically, anti-colonial intellectuals are portrayed as accomplices (of Islamism or jihadism), as “useful idiots”, as they used to say.
In the debate on the bill in the National Assembly, it was felt that the question of covering up became almost an obsession for many MPs.
73, is a social scientist and political scientist specializing in racism, liberalism and secularism at the National Research Center (CNRS). From 1988 to 2014 he was a professor at the Faculty of Law and Economics at the University of Limoges.
Since the Creil headscarf affair in 1989, when schoolgirls refused to take off their Muslim headgear, France has been living in a kind of intellectual civil war. This dispute has been going on for thirty years, although sociological studies show that not all young women who wear a veil are instrumentalized by men or some imams for political-religious propaganda. Still, it is said that this piece of clothing is completely unacceptable to the French public. If the veil is so offensive, it is also because of the role it played in the history of colonization: a woman who wanted to be naturalized in France had to take off her veil. For the children, grandchildren and even younger descendants who are familiar with this story, wearing a veil in return can be a way of referring to their origins. That can take on an identitary form.
Western society perceives the veil as an anti-feminist symbol of the subordination of women.
It is telling how here the racism against Muslims is often quite “veiled” – namely with the pretext of an alleged defense of gender equality. Incidentally, gender equality is nowhere mentioned in the secular laws of 1905. To derive a prohibition of the veil in public from the secularity law, I consider to be legally incorrect.
What would be the use of a public veil ban?
There is none at all. Something like that only fuels the tensions that I have already spoken of. Because there the image of an internal enemy is created, simply because of the desire to dress a little differently.