The Failure of France’s Secular Fundamentalism
(For Immediate Release)
The French are doubling down on Laïcité, their virulent form of secularist fundamentalism. President Emmanuel Macron’s obsession with, and intended crackdown on Islam and Muslims, calls to question the true nature of the French state which sloganeers the motto: Liberté, égalité, fraternité [Liberty, equality, fraternity].
Prior to the beheading of Samuel Paty, the teacher who chose to teach children, using demeaning illustrations of caricatures of the Prophet (peace be upon him), Mr Macron was already prepping the public about what he called ‘separatism.’ This is the notion that Muslims choose to remain exclusive and not assimilate, in the mould that France has always tried to make everyone French.
The allegation of separatism levelled against Muslims by the president underscores the failure of the French approach to assimilate diverse communities that are part and parcel of the republic.
The eventual killing of Paty has turned out to be an I-told-you-so moment for Mr Macron and a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts. Generations-long sustenance of vilification, marginalisation and a hostile attitude towards any group of people, is bound to create resentment, anger and estrangement towards any system. With a cynical never-waste-a-crisis opportunism, Mr Macron seeks to exploit this situation to the maximum extent.
Without justifying the deed of Abdullah Anzorov who took the life of Paty extra-judicially, Muslim have over and over again made it clear how the blasphemous portrayal of their sacred symbols is an attack on their dignity, beliefs and identity.
The relationship between a Muslim and the Prophet (peace be upon him) is at the heart of Islamic belief, as he conveys the Word of the Almighty to us. This relationship does not only establish the transcendental link with the Creator but also brings together Muslims as a community of faith hence, identity.
To insist that true freedom can only be asserted by insulting, demeaning and offending another’s beliefs and conscience, belies the claim of the ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity.
From the slums of Marseilles to the streets of Bamako, via Algiers, the French engagement with Muslims continues to be one other than liberty, equality and fraternity. The disdain for Muslims and a strange complex of superiority have characterised the French neo-colonial attitude towards Muslims.
France has the chance to redefine her approach with true values of liberty, equality and fraternity. The outlawing of halaal aisles in supermarkets and lampooning of symbols of a faith while expecting Muslims to accept the insults and injury cannot be liberty.
Regardless of stance the French and others like them take, the sanctity of our beloved shall remain undiminished.
E.I. Bham (Moulana)
09 Rabi’ al Awwal 1442 / 26 October 2020