posted on Nov, 22 2015 @ 05:52 AM
I am not a writer, I don’t know if I have the skills for what I am about to undertake. I may fail completely, I may be successful at taking just a
few on trip into a different reality.
Or at least, another angle of this reality, another perspective. It is a scary one. It challenges some of our current values and morals.
If you, reader, are heavily opinionated and emotional on the question of Islam, you might not want to read this. Fair warning. To be understood, one
must be capable of putting aside your own perspective for a second and look through another, without fear.
In France, there has been a tradition of embracing immigrants into the country, as needed sources of reconstruction and repopulation, primarily during
three periods - the Industrial Revolution, the first world war, and the second world war.
From neighboring european countries, as well as north africa, they were welcomed and appreciated.
When you immigrate to another country, there is always the desire to find comfort in the company of other expats. That is natural. Integration is
difficult and can shake the foundations of your being, if you don’t find others similar to hold hands with. The more different the host country is
in culture, values, tradition and language, the harder that is to grapple with.
Many of the immigrants from nearby countries weren’t that different - Italians, Spaniards, Portuguese… their language was latin based, they
didn’t look different in appearance, and in the majority, had the same Catholic religion. They were able to integrate easier. The arabic language,
however, is vastly different, their religion and culture as well - so they tended to cling to each other more.
The french had always made effort to embrace immigrants, but after the second world war, and the collaboration of the Vichy regime with the Nazi’s,
a deep seated collective guilt influenced their reactions even more. “Never forget” they repeat and carve into memorial in every town- do not
forget the lessons of the past. So they put even more effort into making a visible effort to show they will not be racist or prejudiced against those
who are different. Not this time. Never again.
This effort was made less towards the immigrants who had the same color skin, who learned the language easier, and had the same religion - it was
directed to those who were the most obviously different. They were given extra aid, to make them comfortable - much was spent on good housing,
financial aid… state paid mosques were built. They were given equipment so that they could watch news and programs coming from their homeland. They
were given the right to financial aid and paid vacation specifically for a trip back home each year.
Legal residency was made easy, and presently, they have the right to vote in local elections even if they do not have it. Judges and police made
effort to turn a blind eye to laws broken by that particular population, in order to avoid upset. They stay out of conflicts within the arab
communities, to avoid being seen as authoritarian.
Like a step parent who spoils the stepchild, not disciplining them as they do their own children, in an exaggerated effort to prove they make no
difference, they inadvertently make a difference.
They encouraged the natural drive for these people to group together and not integrate, facilitated it. It was not with ill intent. For the first
generations that arrived, it isn’t even a problem!
The problem arises when you have children in your enclave. When they are raised with this conflict of cultural identity to work through. You pass on
the internal conflict you avoided dealing with, and it is magnified in your children. … and in their children, even more so.
Troubled kids become troublesome adults.
I want you to meet Jemaa. She is a friend of mine. She was born in Algeria, in a small village. She arrived here at sixteen with her parents and
siblings, and had never been to a school in her life. Because she was so old, the french system wouldn‘t take her into the public school system. She
snuck into adult classes to observe and try to learn french. She learned to speak, but not to write very well.
Her family found her a suitor back home, and she went to meet him. Luckily, she fell in love with him, and he with her, and they married and returned
to France. They have twin boys who are young yet, and both of them have steady jobs. They live in a HLM - which is state subsidized housing. The
Americans call this a “no-go” zone. The best equivalent we can use is a ghetto - except that doesn’t fit too well. It is not run down, with
broken windows and graffiti everywhere. It is quite well kept. The buildings are tall, but modern, with nice landscaping around.
The only way one knows what this is is by the groups outside.
There is a group of men, of all ages, in their robes, sitting together, and there is a group of women, in their head scarves and/or veils, sitting
together near the playground, where the kids play. In groups more mobile, there are the caîds - the equivalent of gang members. Young men with a
specific way of dressing and cutting their hair; walking and gesticulating with their hands.
They drive up and down the street dangerously fast in expensive cars - Audi’s, BMW’s, Mercedes.
At any time of day, this is the scene. When there are marriages being celebrated, the expensive cars multiply, and the firearms are brought out to be
shot in the air. The sound of automatic weapons fills the afternoon festivities.
Now, Jemaa is a loyal practicing muslim. She wears a hijab and practices the dietary restrictions and traditions of her religion. Her husband adores
her, treats her well, and helps a lot in the home and with the children. She lives and works rather easily with the french, declining the kiss on the
cheek with men gracefully, and patiently explaining what she eats or not to those who offer her food (no matter how many times they forget). She does
not judge others who have a different belief and has a deep feeling that no matter what the religious practice, everyone is referring to the same God
But she fears for her children every day. Her children are growing up watching life in their HLM. They see the teens that have power - who smoke,
drink, do drugs…. who sell and carry drugs, weapons and stolen goods, and drive fancy cars. They are treated with respect and fear.
While they see their own parents stutter and struggle just to speak, their teachers don’t even bother addressing them , “Tell your mother/father,
they have to bring me this paper.”
Who gets more respect in the world?
They see a terrible choice to make coming up. Be drawn into the powerful criminal activity, or stick with the parents who cringe and stumble before
Then they see the others… just a bit older, they come in, and they have self discipline, they have a confidence that is not flashy or fake; it is
cold, quiet, intimidating. They do not drink, they do not do drugs, they stick to strict practices of prayer and diet. There is an air of mystery
around them - people fear them and lower their eyes.
Some of the young criminals start to mingle with them, and change. They stop the drugs, they stop the alcohol and other transgressions of the religion
of their parents. They become less ostentatious, which gives an impression of a power much more “real”.