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We pride ourselves on being a tolerant nation, but....

(146 Posts)
Day6 Thu 26-Apr-18 09:51:39

should we tolerate Islamic intolerance?

I read the below in The Spectator and have copied and pasted because there may be a paywall.

I confess that I haven't read any of the responses to this incident. My feeling is "Bravo France!" in making a stand. I think it is the right decision. What do you think? Do we have to apply a bit of the "When in Rome" rule?

"Why has the refusal of France to grant a passport to an Algerian woman who declined to shake the hand of a state official at her citizenship ceremony because of her “religious beliefs” made the BBC website? Picked up by other news’ outlets, including the New York Times, it’s not unreasonable to infer that the subtext is: there go the French again, discriminating against Muslims. If it’s not the burka or the burkini, it’s a handshake."

"But why would any western country welcome a woman who shuns one of its oldest and most courteous customs? If she finds shaking hands with a man beyond the pale, one is entitled to suspect she may not look too favourably on gays and Jews. Anti-Semitism is now so profound in France that on Sunday 250 well-known figures, including Nicolas Sarkozy and Manuel Valls, signed a letter warning that the country’s Jews are victims of “ethnic purging” at the hands of “radical Islamists”.

"Government posters are a common sight in France, reminding all citizens that it is against French law to cover one’s face in public. They say: ‘La République se vit à visage découvert’ [The Republic lives with its face uncovered]. Nonetheless, a small number of women continue to defy the law, such as the one in Toulouse who refused to show her face to police when asked last Sunday. She then insulted the police and was arrested, sparking three days of rioting by local youths."

"Of course, there are plenty of Muslims who are fully integrated into French society. But life is not always easy for them. Emmanuel Macron has been talking much in recent weeks of his determination to tackle what he calls the “underground Islamism” that seeks to “corrupt”. The first victims of the extremists are their fellow Muslims, the millions of men and women perfectly well integrated but facing daily intimidation by the Islamists, who assault them ideologically, trying to undermine their faith with accusations of apostasy for daring to dress in a skirt or wear shorts on the football pitch. The latter is becoming a problem in some inner-city Muslim-majority football clubs, where male players are encouraged to wear leggings instead of shorts, whatever the weather, in order to preserve their modesty."

Predictably, the disclosure that France has denied citizenship to the Algerian woman has been greeted with much indignation from around the world But in rejecting her application, the French have demonstrated that they won’t tolerate the intolerance of extremists."

nigglynellie Thu 26-Apr-18 10:16:26

What I feel is that if I wished to become a citizen of another country, I would automatically have to abide by that country's rules regulations and traditions. If I found these unacceptable I wouldn't apply to live there simple as that. France, like any nation in the world runs the country as it sees fit and it's not for others to try to buck the system. This of course just my opinion.

Anniebach Thu 26-Apr-18 10:23:45

We agree again niggly

grumppa Thu 26-Apr-18 10:31:10

We should not tolerate any intolerance that adversely affects the lives of others. If this means we are seen as intolerant ourselves, so be it.

JenniferEccles Thu 26-Apr-18 10:44:22

Good for the French!

I would like to think there would be the same refusal to accept this woman here, but somehow I doubt it.

GrandmaMoira Thu 26-Apr-18 10:50:28

I do agree with what the French are doing. I see large numbers of muslim women here wearing floor length flowing black robes with a Chador? covering head, forehead and chin, flowing loose to the waist. Their girls from around age 5 have head coverings and ankle length skirts. The males wear normal western clothes. This does not seem integration and does seem sexist.

Fennel Thu 26-Apr-18 11:07:25

While we were living in France I noticed many times that french people are much less inhibited about expressing dislike of other groups than the british.
I'm not sure why, maybe something to do with the different legal systems.
And France has a much bigger proportion of Muslim inhabitants than the UK. (France one in 8, UK 4.4%).

Fennel Thu 26-Apr-18 11:08:48

One in 8, about 12.5%?

gillybob Thu 26-Apr-18 11:10:40

Good for the French!

I would like to think there would be the same refusal to accept this woman here, but somehow I doubt it.

Completely agree with you JenniferEccles.

Maggiemaybe Thu 26-Apr-18 11:20:04

8.8% in France, 6.3% in the UK.

Day6 Thu 26-Apr-18 11:52:13

While we were living in France I noticed many times that french people are much less inhibited about expressing dislike of other groups than the british

I haven't lived there Fennel but we visit often. Yes, the French seem generally much more direct, open, blunt even. An in-law from Latvia is exactly the same. She says what she thinks in any conversation. At first it seemed brash and very un-British, but now I appreciate her honesty.

I think we say stuff behind closed doors that we hesitate to say out loud and in public and we have taken on board being politically correct and perhaps it's to our detriment. We may seem weak. The French get properly upset, and it' healthier I expect. They don't let upsets fester. This latest incident has highlighted something that is offensive and indeed rude. We've always shaken hands to greet and congratulate and so have the French, in formal situations.

We can live in peace and harmony I hope but that involves give and take. That's a two way process. I do think incomers have to appreciate their ways and norms, like the covering of faces, women being segregated, and refusing to shake hands. have no place in western culture.

SueDonim Thu 26-Apr-18 12:12:52

My dil is French Muslim and she would agree with that article. She is also, as Fennel comments, very blunt in her opinions. She calls a spade a spade and I have to say, we both chuckle at and admire her chutzpah. No one messes with my dil! grin

She feels Britain is much more tolerant than France, though she thinks we can be too tolerant at times.

Eloethan Thu 26-Apr-18 16:40:23

I disagree with the practice of not shaking hands with members of the opposite sex and think it's ridiculous, as are many religious or cultural practices.

However, I don't see why this woman should be denied citizenship on those grounds. I too think it's an abuse of power.

I realise I will be in the minority in taking this point of view.

paddyann Thu 26-Apr-18 17:01:57

I'm with you Eloethan why should anyone be compelled to shake hands? Surely thats a matter of choice ..religion or not .There are some folk I'd rather not shake hands with or air kiss ...nobody's choice but mine .

Joelsnan Thu 26-Apr-18 18:16:50

I cannot remember UK having issues with anti-semetism until recently. I always thought we had welcomed Jews and they themselves were fully integrated into the fabric of Britain. Maybe I was blind to this prejudice or is this a recent phenomenon as a result of intimidation by recent migrants?
Is our general tolerance and embrace of diversity fuelling a pressure cooker?
Should we ignore each groups calls of 'phobia' and hope we all eventually live happily ever after or should we also apply socially acceptable norms that we should all conform to?

Iam64 Thu 26-Apr-18 18:30:11

I'm relieved to live in the UK, where it isn't essential for a woman whose faith says no touching between men and women (who aren't related ?). isn't reason to deny citizenship.
I'd love to live in a society where all faiths and none were accepted. I don't and I fear this won't happen in my life time.

TwiceAsNice Thu 26-Apr-18 18:34:09

"When in Rome do as the Romans do" Why is that so difficult in modern culture. Why do you want to live in a country where you don't want to adapt to the customs? If British( or French) citizens go to Middle Eastern countries we are expected to conform whether we agree or not, in visiting the country surely we give implicit consent that we will conform. Indeed in some countries there are harsh penalties for tourists if they do not. The choice is simple do not visit or live in countries whose customs/principles you do not believe in. It's a pity I think that sometimes we are TOO tolerant and I say this as someone who has friends of different faiths and feel all people are equal

Day6 Thu 26-Apr-18 18:58:37

I always thought we had welcomed Jews and they themselves were fully integrated into the fabric of Britain

Same here Joelsnan. The recent furore about anti-Semitism and the Labour Party shocked me. I always knew Corbyn and co sided with Palestine against Israel, but it's as though Islam versus Judaism is the fight and it's been brought to the UK. Given the history of the Jews I naively thought no one had any grievances against a body of people in the UK who'd suffered so much.

I am aghast and shocked that there is so much hatred within the Labour Party.

Cynicism rules. Is Corbyn after the Muslim vote I wonder?

Alexa Thu 26-Apr-18 19:04:20

"But why would any western country welcome a woman who shuns one of its oldest and most courteous customs?"

The freedom of individual choice in western Europe does not extend to breaking laws. France or Britain must defend themselves against authoritarian religious beliefs and practices as they see fit, and legislate accordingly.

As for differences of opinion about what is or is not etiquette, I think that the more relaxed person is in a stronger position and so can tolerate someone who for whatever reason is inhibited or ignorant.

paddyann Thu 26-Apr-18 19:53:54

there is a huge difference between being anti the Israeli state government re its treatment of the Palestinians and being anti semitic .I speak as someone whose family has many jewish friends and most of them are anti the israeli governments stance over Palestine ,indeed many marched through Edinburgh in protest against it .The land grabs and destruction of peoples homes and lives shouldn't be allowed to continue....and saying so doesn't make me anti semitic.

Joelsnan Thu 26-Apr-18 20:34:53

Paddyann UK Jews are not Israeli Jews, why should they experience anti-Semitic content in their own country, potentially metered out by recent arrivals?
British Christians would not be blamed for any atrocity in another Christian country could they?

paddyann Thu 26-Apr-18 20:48:13

I dont believe British jews are being blamed,I think its a media against Corbyn thing thats happening and although I am no fan of him myself I think he is entitled to his anti Israeli state stance .The "British" jews who support the state should be criticised for their attitude and thats not anti semitic either just as me cricicising the Vaticans stance on some issues isn't making me anti catholic.I think we use anti semitism too often and in the wrong context

lemongrove Thu 26-Apr-18 20:56:15

You haven’t been following all the stories that have been coming out for the last two years Paddy it is not simply
A media against Corbyn thing at all!
Corbyn has tolerated an antisemitic attitude around himself from followers, activists etc ever since he became Leader, and this has resulted in even LP MP’s suffering abuse if they happen to be Jewish, ditto Labour councillors and others.
He is incapable of getting to grips with it.

Granny23 Thu 26-Apr-18 21:23:23

I find it ridiculous that there is such a fuss about a woman refusing to shake someone's hand and then being refused citizenship. I thought citizens were guaranteed freedom of worship and religious observance? It strikes me as the same petty nonsense about certain workers wearing crucifixes - what harm are they doing?

I refused to shake a man's hand when proffered in a line up because I knew he was a paedophile (Later proved in court), I do not accept kisses, even on the cheek, from men I do not know or respect. I never stand for nor sing God Save the Queen. Our Courts and Parliaments allow people to swear oaths in various languages and on bibles, the Koran etc.

Why on earth should a woman be denied citizenship for following the tenants of her religion in a way that does no harm to anyone?

Devorgilla Thu 26-Apr-18 21:53:45

I don't think she should have been denied citizenship for what is a very minor thing. When I was an Exams Centre Inspector (UK), I inspected a Jewish school and extended my hand to the headteacher. He started to reach his hand out and then hesitated and very apologetically explained that he was from the Orthodox tradition and married and it was their tradition not to touch a member of the opposite sex to whom they were not related or married. I assured him I was not offended. Why would I be? It didn't hurt me and it was his culture. In all other ways during the inspection he was totally respectful. When in Islamic centres I always carried a headscarf with me in case I was in the Mosque area and it was their custom for a female to cover their head. I always asked and was always told it was not necessary. It reminded me that a long time ago in this country it was not considered etiquette for a man to extend his hand to a married woman. It was ok to shake it if she extended hers first. I sometimes think we are far too ready for the huggey, kissey approach when, personally, I would prefer on occasions to have a degree of distance. I haven't read the story relating to this woman but would assume that a person not prepared to shake hands on such a formal occasion when that would be the norm would have flagged that up earlier with an explanation of their preference. Otherwise it seems to me to be a trifle media attention seeking. In my inspections if I had been told I couldn't inspect the Centre because I was a woman then I would have objected strongly and taken it further as that is a serious breach of our culture.