Bonsoir mes amis!
Tonight I have been lounging on the couch, channel surfing due to a long day of walking at an amusement park. My poor feet are killing me! But anyways-back on subject. Whilst watching tv I saw that La Belle et la Bete was being played on the old time movies channel. I watched this movie (the original French film "Beauty and the Beast") in my high school French class and just loved it! I have always been a B&tB fan since I was a child, well of the Disney version that is, and so the film being in French fascinated me more. Seeing this tonight and hearing the sweet sound of the language float through the air made me nostalgic for school and studying.
Since switching my major at uni, I haven't been paying much attention to my French skills. I had an epiphany after the first semester that I really did not like France...or French culture...and what they have been standing for lately. I traveled to France a few years ago and had my romanticized dreams of this fabulous, cultured country shattered. Perhaps it was because we were traveling as a high school trip (though there were only 15 of us) that the Parisian locals were far from friendly. I had a scarf I was buying thrown at me (not hard, but enough to let me know she wanted me to move on out of her store) and my friend, who didn't speak french, was called an "annoying child" to her face, for no apparent reason.
Now, when I see foreigners in my city, or at an amusement park (like today), I smile. I'm kind. I'm polite. Because I want to represent my country in a good light...and for the sheer fact that they are human beings too and want to enjoy their stay here. Why do the rules change in some countries? I've heard many similar stories from friends and family who have traveled to France and I am just dumbfounded.
This country has such a rich history-not only for the advancement of the west, but also in the Catholic Church. So many saints hailed from France...so many kings defended our Church and her teachings...what has happened to this once religious nation? For my French studies at university this year, I had to go to some out of class lectures from French scholars and French citizens. Some were fascinating, but some just boiled my blood. One in particular was about the dilemma of culture facing France today and how the surplus of immigrants are not blending in. I totally support this cause because studies show that much of western Europe will lose its "European" identity in the next 50-some years. That's extremely scary!
Perhaps it freaks me out so much because I am a huge history buff. I love Europe...the historic sites, the languages, the traditions, etc and I simply do not want to see these countries lose the remnants of what makes them so unique. I am convinced that secularization is the root of this dilemma. When these countries let immigrants in, the immigrants hold tight (naturally) to their OWN cultures. (Who wants to adapt to a culture that basically gave up the things that made it a "culture" in the first place?! Not to mention, the ways from home are always a comfort to people moving to a new country...I cannot blame them.) Thus I simply cannot pity France for the "crisis" they see themselves in now because they are trying so hard to strip themselves of their identity (with the exception of language and food) and their relation to the RCC, the faith that was the basis of so many achievements in their history.
So what was one of the solutions to make "France more French" in the speaker's speech? A ban on the hijab in schools and on burqinis/too modest swim suits. WHAT?! Sarkozy's brilliant idea was to ban all religious symbols and apparel in schools. That not only bans head scarves (which is not simply an "immigrant" thing, which obviously insinuates a "Muslim" thing, but Jews, Christians, & some Hindus practice forms of head covering), but also forbids the wearing of cross/crucifix necklaces and other religious jewelry and apparel. Swimsuits that cover too much skin have also been labeled "unhygienic" and have been banned from public pools. What happened to freedom of religion?
To someone who actually takes religion seriously, this ban threatens their whole way of life and how they are training their children. This won't matter to an everyday agnostic Frenchman, but to a religious person, you have stripped them of their identity. Head covering is mandatory for Christian women according to the Bible (I know many of you will argue that). Paul says we must cover when in prayer and to pray without ceasing...meaning I need to be covering full time. France will be forcing women to sin and to feel like outcasts. Even if this ban is lifted, the statement has been made that headcovering is "un-French" and not normal. Way to make your citizens feel free and like they belong/have the right to their own identity.
The whole thing with the swimwear also angers me. I am notorious for having "weird" swimwear. Long board shorts and wet suit shirt things...or long cover-ups. I would not be allowed access to a pool for practicing modesty, but young girls can prance around in bikinis, almost exposing themselves, and that is just safe & fine!
The France I read about in books, watch in old films, and study in school is dead. I would not feel comfortable living in France (which is what I would have had to do for my French major) for an extended period of time. The people not only seem bitter, but the government in suppressing my right to religion. Their concern is for "trying not to be taken over by what they would call an Islamist ideology.", when in reality, they are confused about what it is they are trying to combat. Islamist ideology is not the hijab or modesty. Those seem to be the symbols associated with Islam and, unfortunately, terrorism. Yet, these issues are something France once stood for. Good French women wore head coverings (Anne Boleyn brought French style coverings to England in the 1500's) and were always modest in whatever activities they participated in.
It is one thing to want to avoid adapting shariah law (that would be Islamist ideology, not a simple piece of cloth) and preserving a more European style of government, but this is not the way to do it. If you preach freedom of religion in your country, live it and let your citizens practice their faiths fully.
France, you could learn a thing or two from Islam. I know you fear it oh so much, but if you just saw how much dignity Muslimah's have...and how a woman is not liberated by exposing herself and denying any obligation she has to God. Maybe you would see how far you have strayed from your own faith, your Church. I'll be praying for the awakening of France, and Europe as a whole. It just hurts me to see how blind and mislead they have become...May God restore these countries to Him, amen.