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October 20th, 2010, by Caroline Fourest

Caroline Fourest

View Caroline Fourest’s Global Expert profile here.

“Primarily those of the Roma;” the five words at the bottom of a circular not only mean that France has lied to the European Union, but also that it has betrayed itself, which is far worse. This ethnic focus is unworthy of an originally indiscriminate Republic. Rejecting such words means remaining faithful to her.

Many French people may not view it that way. Those will retain but one image. That of a France called to order by Brussels for saying the obvious and uttering the annoying words; especially if they have reported the seventh burglary of their house and the police tell them, wrongly or rightly, that this is due to the Roma; if they see pictures of camps along highways; if they board their train at the Gare du Nord in Paris, where one is beset by aggressive begging. Things were different three years ago. In a country that sees a chain of security laws, everything seems to be going the wrong way… Politics has its mysteries that only the policy of decay could account for.

Exasperated and white-heated from insecurity, many French people turn a deaf ear on what the supporters of complexity have to say; that police would be more effective against burglaries and begging if they were not understaffed or busy dismantling caravans; that there would have been fewer illegal camps if France had built sufficient legal camps to ensure smoother coexistence between sedentary and nomadic lives; that there is need to differentiate between Travelers (often French people) and the Roma (from Romania or Bulgaria).

However, many are likely to understand the rushed integration of Romania and Bulgaria into the European Union as a mistake. The Roma often flee abject living conditions in their countries of origin. The Union had to ensure that the millions in these countries improved their environment before opening the doors to a foreseeable exodus… Once again, the race for expansion guided by economic motives – a large market and low cost workforce – has acted against political Europe.

Nationalisms

The result is there. Several EU countries, not just France, are struggling with it. In Italy, popular reactions are going up to pogroms; Sweden and Germany have the wisdom to act without pointing fingers. In France, the president in fear of seeing his electorate migrate to the far right makes a cynical bet; once again playing the role of  the one who says out loud what everyone thinks to themselves, a spectacular policy and, the icing on the cake, appear as the France that stands up to Brussels.

Successful effect! A European Parliament going headwind against the French government; a commissioner evoking a “roundup”; a French president referring him to his Luxembourg origin. What a picture! What a mess! And what a bonus to extremes!

This is just the beginning. From 2011, free movement will unrestrictedly apply to citizens from Romania and Bulgaria. France will no longer be allowed – as it is today – to deport EU citizens on grounds of “insufficient resources”. The scenario and campaigning dialogue are: “You see. The left wing does not want to use the annoying words and Brussels is binding me!”

Nice rant! Not sure, however, whether in this register, the National Front has no better tragic figure. There are controlled skids that end up in the scenery…

France will not be the sole victim. A European issue par excellence, the Roma issue has undisputed potential to rouse nationalism. It can kill the European dream. Unless and until the EU is committed to urgently improving the situation of the Roma in Bulgaria and Romania, France will have to find strength to remain itself.

Caroline Fourest is a prominent French writer and columnist.

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4 Responses to “Solving the burqa debate”
  1. Yafah1 says:

    I understand someone’s strong believe – but … what is it that ours, not being Muslims, are not respected either – if we go into an Arab Country, they DEMAND we cover our head – The same should be when a Muslim comes to OUR County – we should act as they do – we should also demand they follow our dress code!
    If they like their burka and the whole outfit – let them stay in their own country – ours is where we find freedom.
    I feel it’s a type of rebellion and to show the world that they WILL NOT change and others just have to adjust to them – but yet – we have to adjust to them when we go to their country – is this right?
    The answer is NO – as I said – if they like their “costume” let them wear it at home or in their own country! – we did not ask them to come here – they freely came – they can freely go back to home to.
    They need to adjust to the life style of the country where they go! Plain and simple – we have compromised way too much – their purpose is to take over – are we going to let them?

  2. [...] lille artikel om burka  HER hos Global Expert [...]

  3. azize says:

    hi

    i agree with yafaht. i am muslim and a covered woman. i think burqa ban is related with immigrant problem European countries faced with and other economic and social reasons. before muslims in europe were not populated as today. economic crisis all over western countries made unemployment one of the biggest issues. and now countries like germany and france do not want increased muslim population in their countries. before there was not such bans on hijab or burqa because western countries were assuming that one day those temporary workers from muslim countries would go to their homecountries. but it did not happen. in the opposite they remained and they have the highest birth rates all over europe. europe will face with cultural evoporation in the near future if the situation will continue like this. so they started to disturb muslims in their countries. not only muslims…if you recall france deported gypsies too. i think it is understandable. because under this condition the demographic feature in europe looks very weird. it seems like muslims will be the dominant population all over europe. and it is their right to ban whatever they want. at the end it is their countries not immigrants. but again i would like to point out europeans do not act like this with the religious motivations. i think muslims should not critize western countries because of burqa ban. AND WESTERNER SHOULD NOT CRITISE MUSLIM COUNTRIES IN THE NAME OF SO CALLED HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES BECAUSE OF THEIR ISLAMIC RULES TO MAKE WOMEN COVERED. Every country should respect others’ sovereignity. if we look at the us policies for covered hijabis, we see totally different attitude. because the american cultural, economic and demographic features do not resemble with the european countries. to avoid inceasing tensions, muslims should not insist to live in a place where their existence seems like a burden

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