|Tensions in France|
|Écrit par Ilyess|
|Jeudi, 26 Mars 2009 19:13|
Tensions in the meadest reverberate in France
NOISY-LE-GRAND, France — On a giant flat-screen television, the Chabchoubs, a family of Tunisian immigrants, watched as veiled mothers wailed over the bodies of children and fathers cried silently. The piles of rubble, the squirming toddler covered in raw burns — all of this was coming straight from Gaza to their living room in this working-class suburb of Paris.
For the Chabchoubs, like many of the estimated five million Muslims living in France, Gaza feels very close because of Arabic-language channels like Al Jazeera, which had access to the war zone, unlike Western news media.
“It’s good that the fighting has stopped, but that doesn’t mean we will forget,” said Enis Chabchoub, 29, a computer trainer who was watching the news with his parents, siblings and sister-in-law. “This war will be remembered, and not only in Gaza.”
In France, which is home to the largest Jewish and the largest Muslim communities in Western Europe, the conflict between Hamas and Israel has deeply inflamed passions over the past three weeks. The emotions, strongly expressed in demonstrations that drew tens of thousands of people to the streets, were one factor driving diplomatic efforts by French leaders, including President Nicolas Sarkozy, to achieve a lasting cease-fire.
“The emotions of the Middle East are in our streets,” Jean-David Levitte, Mr. Sarkozy’s chief diplomatic adviser, said this week.
Twenty-two days of fighting in Gaza also stirred up old tensions, and in some cases violence, between two communities whose members often live in the same neighborhoods and have endured discrimination.
Some people worry that the war might have done lasting damage to community relations. Jewish leaders warn of the dangers of a diffuse kind of anti-Jewish sentiment becoming entrenched in the Muslim community. In turn, their Islamic counterparts accuse some in the Jewish community of fueling a bias against Muslims by deliberately talking up differences that they say are political, rather than religious.
Since the Gaza war began on Dec. 27, firebombs have been thrown at four synagogues in France, although the police say it is not certain that the culprits were Muslims. A Jewish student was attacked by youths of Arab origin in a Paris suburb, and two Muslim students were attacked outside their high school by pro-Israel assailants. Both Muslim and Jewish families said there had been an increase in intimidation and verbal abuse.
Richard Prasquier, the head of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions, said that at least 60 anti-Jewish acts had been committed since the fighting began, or five times the amount in a typical three-week period.
“The anti-Semitism in the Muslim community is becoming more ideological, and recent events could reinforce that,” Mr. Prasquier said from his office at the council’s headquarters in Paris. “They don’t see themselves as anti-Semitic; they identify with Palestinians who are victims of Israel. But they use practically the same stereotypes of the old anti-Semitism, of the rich Jew who manipulates governments and is the origin of all evil.”
M’hammed Henniche, of the Union of Muslim Associations in the Seine-St.-Denis district north of Paris, which includes Noisy-le-Grand, saw it differently, “Yes, there is anger, but it’s not against Jews, it’s against Israel,” he said. “The problem is that as soon as you condemn Israel, you are called anti-Semitic. For us this is not about religion, this is about politics.” ***
But he also said that the interfaith dialogue between Muslims and Jews had suffered as a result of the war, and in some cases it had been suspended outright.
“Something is broken,” he said.
Tensions between Muslims and Jews are not new here; a wave of violence took place during the Palestinian uprising in 2000. They also are not unique to France, as arson attacks and assaults in Britain, Denmark and elsewhere in Europe have demonstrated in recent weeks. But the size of the communities here has made the tensions more obvious.
Add to that France’s painful colonial history in Arab countries and a small but vocal far-right movement with both anti-Jewish and anti-immigrant impulses, and the relationship between French Muslims and Jews is complex in the best of times.
People in both communities have vigorously condemned the recent violence, and both sides stress their cultural affinities.
Like the vast majority of Muslims here, about two-thirds of the 600,000 Jews living in France are of North African origin. The two groups share a number of cultural characteristics, including cuisine and colloquialisms, and many Muslims and Jews oppose a law approved in 2004 that banned all but the most discreet religious garb and symbols from French public schools, including the Muslim head scarf and the Jewish skullcap.
But if many in the older generation still have fond memories of living peacefully side by side, others regret that the atmosphere has gradually cooled. Some people blame conflicts like the war in Iraq or the standoff with Iran over its nuclear ambitions for driving the communities further apart. Others see the rise of satellite television channels as a source of tension, because the events are reported from vastly different political points of view.
The war in Gaza has aroused strong feelings even in the 19th Arrondissement on the northeastern edge of Paris, one of the city’s largest, poorest and most racially diverse neighborhoods.
Kosher butchers and a large Lubavitcher religious school are just a short walk from the Medina Hammam Center, and no attacks against Jews or Muslims have been reported in the neighborhood over the last three weeks. Still, emotions are running high.
“They are coming after us in France, because they can’t get us in Israel,” said a Jewish woman as she left the local synagogue. She spoke on the condition of anonymity because she said she feared for her safety.
Two blocks away, Ahmed Bessa, 45, a sales clerk wearing a Muslim skullcap, said that Jews were playing up the violence in France and elsewhere in Europe because European public opinion did not share their view of the Gaza war. “They want to portray themselves as victims here, because they know they’re not the victims there,” he said.
But if one thought unites people on both sides, it is the hope for a swift and durable resolution of the Israel-Hamas conflict.
“The only way this issue will go away,” said Mr. Chabchoub in Noisy-le-Grand, “is if there is a proper and durable peace agreement.”
[***Anger is a signal that something is wrong-in this case the terrible injustice against the Gazans; it is not an excuse for violence or for bad behaviour-from either side! As far as the conflict being non-religious -this is certainly true-or should be-BUT, if so, supposed leaders of either Muslims or Jewish need to refrain from making what are only passive aggressive statements.. ..It does not help calm the atmosphere, nor solve any of the many problems. One might do better to come up with equitable solutions to a 60 year old problem and teach many not to use the word Jew/Juif when they should use the word 'Israeli'... or Muslim when speaking of the Gazans. The statement made from the 'muslim' about 11 lines down from the supposed leader of the Muslims in this area negates his words....and is probably more reflective of the population he supposedly leads....This sounds like just more of 'cloaking' one's words-but leaving one's true meaning right out in the open -It is just another way to antagonize and incite unchecked emotions...Next time, try making suggestions about how the Gazans can be aided to re-build their shattered lives-and follow that up with a deed which backs up the intent to do so!
"I created you in diversity not to create enmity, but so you would know one another."
The root of Islam is Salaam! It is not antagonism or hostility towards others!!!! Not in deed or in word...
peace [ peess ]
1. freedom from war: freedom from war, or the time when a war or conflict ends
the signing of the peace agreement
****2. tranquillity: a calm and quiet state, free from disturbances or noise
***3. mental calm: a state of mental calm and serenity, with no anxiety
***4. harmony: freedom from conflict or disagreement among people or groups of people
5. peace treaty: a treaty agreeing to an end of hostilities between two warring parties
6. law and order: the absence of violence or other disturbances within a state
Peace reigned throughout the land.
By KATRIN BENNHOLD
Published: January 20, 2009
source : NYTimes
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