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LETTER | France - sorry seems to be the hardest word…

LETTER | What have I got to do to be heard? I have to put my fingers to the keyboard on this issue that now infuriates Muslims the world over. I have seen and read the 9,300 over words (English version) speech by the French president on “Fight against separatism” on Oct 2, 2020.

The aim was to define the problems that endangered the French’s ability to live together and sharing the decisions taken.

The issue is not laïcité (secularism) since France is cemented by it.

The problem is the ideology of Islamist separatism or radical Islamism to create a parallel order. Deviations from the republic’s values and laws include children taken out of schools and development of separate community sporting and cultural activities. 

The ELCO system in schools provides for the teaching of languages and cultures of origin with teachers who were not proficient in French. This is against a single system where schools must first and foremost instil the values of the republic.

It negates the principles of gender equality, right to blaspheme and freedom of expression.

France is worried about things like the recent manifestations near the premises of Charlie Hebdo and the January 2015 attacks.

What created the uproar is the statement that says Islam is a religion that is currently experiencing a crisis all over the world including in countries where Islam is the majority religion. But the last part says “which is being infected by the radical manifestations”.

There were admissions that France has built its own separatism and created a concentration of abject poverty and difficulties and haven’t been able to rebuild sufficient integration. The promise of the republic was not kept and sometimes gone backwards. Battles against discrimination, racism and anti-Semitism may have also gradually encouraged this development.

Admission too on the unresolved colonial past.

I am encouraged by, “let’s not fall into the trap of conflating issues, set by polemicists and extremists, which consists in denouncing all Muslims. That trap is what the enemies of the republic set us” and “But we must help this religion to structure itself in our country so that it is a partner of the republic”.

Mr President, while you take responsibility for the counter-radicalisation plans, please keep in mind freedom of expression. Restricting seven-year-old girls wearing full-face veils infringes on a person's right to respect for their private life. It is not behaving irresponsibly or encouraging racial or religious hatred.

You may want to revisit the findings by the ombudsman on children’s rights; protest law that risks undermining the right to freedom of peaceful assembly; harassment by the police in some regions; people facing trial and conviction for their humanitarian work; discriminatory and illegal orders at a police station that targeted “black people and north Africans” and “homeless and Roma people”; and threats to press freedom where three French journalists were summoned by French intelligence services for investigating the use of French weapons by the Saudi-led coalition in the conflict in Yemen.

Hopefully, the above is done before Dec 9 when a bill will be presented to the Council of Ministers to strengthen laïcité and consolidate republican principles.

I am amazed and respect your efforts in tackling the above issue and trust politicians in Malaysia can follow your example.

In the new awakening to regain control, winning people back and to love the republic again, my only wish is that you can say sorry for the fourteen (14) words, “Islam is a religion that is currently experiencing a crisis all over the world”.

It certainly will resolve the uproar with a sense of calm, respect and pragmatism and also unite the republic again and not divide it.

I respect France as a nation of citizens and not a society of individuals. 


The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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