Quoting Edith Cresson, the first female Prime Minister of France, the difference is that "French men and women liked and needed each other." At least we may be happy that feminism and freedom of women is more in France than at anywhere else because the contrast with Anglo-Saxon attitudes is noteworthy and this shows that the French women do not see themselves as generically the victims of men. (McIntyre, 1996) on the other hand the harassment laws in France are far stricter than other countries. This information is vital for understanding why the problem of a simple thing like a head scarf made mandatory for women creates a furor. Can such a situation be overcome?
2. Is France capable of overcoming this rigidity, or is it doomed to struggle unsuccessfully with these challenges?
There are some answers to this question one of them being the possibility of increasing the employment level by giving greater freedom to investors. The problem does not remain solely with the employment problem although during the Seventies it was seen that immigrants were the cause of unemployment, mere unemployment does not cause the strife we see in France today. In 1974 there was a shift in immigration laws in France due to recession that was caused by the OPEC oil crisis. France had to close its doors to immigration -- through a series of steps which included banning immigration and deporting illegal immigrants and encouraging the legal emigrants to also go home. (Ogden, 1989)
There came policies on second and third generation immigrants and lastly policies to mitigate the flare up between the indigenous labor population and the immigrants over work. The fact that far back France was a great target for the immigrant cannot be overlooked. France was the general target for immigration, there are now a lot of visible differences between and there is a communalist element that has taken strong root. The suburbs of Paris, like Lille, and Lyon have mixed population for all races and places and Islam is a part of this new challenge the Islamic concepts are said to be running contrary to the established conventions of masculinity, feminists, freedom and the way the religion could be adapted to the French culture. (Bowen, 2007) Then the major problem is not employment but the general fear of Islam. The employment problem also stems from the national policy over jobs.
The major problem is seen to be the fact that the permanent jobs are retained by senior French citizens and jobs are for life. "In France the life expectancy levels are one of the highest in the world." (Kalyoncu, 2006) There is thus no scope of employing the youth. The youth from the immigrant communities are further discriminated against. There is Human rights report of September 2001 that shows that discrimination is deeply present in the French society. Legally there could be no discrimination because the Constitution of France does not recognize minorities and thus the argument is that "France is a country in which there are no ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities." (Kalyoncu, 2006) the native French citizens blame the immigrants for the poor employment scenario and increasing crime rate. There is the majority of the French public who voice opinions that there must be forcible repatriation of unemployed immigrants. (Kalyoncu, 2006) There seems to be xenophobia against the Muslims more than any other community, probably because of the connection to terrorism and the Al Qaeda. However rigidity of the state to wards the Muslims and the colored population is evident.
The religious angle cannot be overlooked. In France Muslims outnumber the Protestants and some of these people have migratory tendencies in the sense that they leave for their place of origin after a time. There are others who are like the South Moluccans have stronger roots. The South Moluccans have terrorized the Dutch with kidnapping and murder for gaining the dream republic in the Spice Islands. Violence against aliens occurs all over Europe especially when the aliens try to integrate with the local community. There were violence against Turks in Germany, Indians in UK and mostly the immigrants are the victims of violence. In democracies the situation presents problems that are not easy to cope up with, especially submerged nationalism that could create separatist rings and bring about urban terror which has caused frustration to all EU governments. (Bell, Horowitz, 1979)
The riots that broke out in Paris and spread about in 2005 in France signals a collapse of the French civic system and brought out the inadequacies in it. By the information available according to Mehmet Kalyoncu, by November 16th 2005, "126 members of the French Police were injured, the total number of cars torched and that of arrests amount respectively 8,973 and 2,888, and the monetary damage is estimated to be over 200 million euros." (Kalyoncu, 2006)
The problem that seems to have begun at the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois spread and totally affected over two hundred communities, most of which were reeling under the worst job market in Europe and the escalating unemployment figures. The unemployment of immigrants was over forty percent and it was this misery that caused the riots which was focused against the government and police. Social and general attitudes of the French show that there have been and perhaps still are racial discrimination and the undercurrent of police brutality towards alien population. The French Police seems to have come down heavily on small crimes with being discriminatory to colored and immigrant French citizens. The problem was escalated with "Sarkozy's 'Zero Tolerance' policing policy that went at tangent to the rising unemployment. There was more to come." (Kalyoncu, 2006)
"The Muslim Question":
The title reeks of the Nazi era, but there appears to be a targeting of the Muslim community just as the Nazis did the Jews. It is not that horrendous but the fear, distrust and hatred seem to have seeped into the society. It is stated that one of the major cause of the riots of 2005 was the discrimination and stigmatization of Islam in France. (Kalyoncu, 2006) an example with a sample immigrant like Djamila, an Algerian-born nurse's aide lives near Paris, hopes that her four sons would find recognition having been born 'French.' Today all her sons are jobless and at 58 Djamila finds that none of them have anything to do because there are absolutely no jobs. Thus Sciolino (2005) shows that France has failed to integrate millions of Arab and African immigrants. It has to be mentioned that most are Muslims. There is a complaint that the police are corrupt, and extort money from neighborhood hoodlums who allow the trade of drugs and the sons of Djamila for example are still not considered French but aliens. (Kalyoncu, 2006)
Today it can be asserted with certainty that 'rigidity' as seen in the French society is only with the colored people and more so with Muslims. Muslims are the focus of discrimination in French society. The French government declines Muslim religious associations from receiving state funding, by resorting to the old rule of 1925 that prohibits state funding of religious institutions that have no cultural ties to the French community. While the state promotes Catholic, Protestant and Jewish schools, there are no Muslim schools. France shows greater discrimination to Muslims in the job market. The riots of 2005 are a result of the discrimination in the French society coupled with unemployment and social isolation of immigrant communities. This led to resulting in riots. (Kalyoncu, 2006)
That requires a detailed examination of the situation. There are reports that Muslims are targeted after the bombing of the world trade centre and other terrorist activities the world over. That France alone is targeted and made to look like being stiff on the issue while other nations in Europe are free from this is farfetched. No doubt that the discrimination did lead to riots thus bringing the issue to the focus of the world. But merely that tensions have not exploded into riots does not mean that other states all over the world have been successful in wiping out discrimination, and the recent fear of Muslims. (Kalyoncu, 2006) Then the question is if France can overcome these problems? The answer could be a big yes. The reason is that what is considered impossible now would become reality in a few years. The improvements in communication and the process of the world getting educated and the information explosion have caused awareness among all people.
In future it is possible that the French voluntarily take in the immigrants into the mainstream and the immigrants voluntarily adopt French culture. Now it is considered to be 'very far fetched.' Consider that at one time the European Union was considered a pipe dream. Then Euro currency was so considered. Talking of this although the critics…