PARIS, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- French President Nicolas Sarkozy says he wants to launch a national debate on the role and influence in France of Islam, the country's second-largest religion.
Last week Sarkozy joined British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in announcing "multiculturalism is not working" and setting out to formalize the relationship between Islam and the fiercely secular state of France, France24 reported Friday. [The tide is turning. Politicians are no longer fearful of questioning Islam and Muslims.]
Sarkozy's call for the debate is viewed as a move to woo voters from the far-right National Front party. [Or maybe he just wants ‘to launch a national debate on the role and influence in France of Islam’. No one ever seems to say that Leftist politicians want to stop debate on Islam and Muslims ‘to woo voters from the [far-left SWP]’. Yet to stop debate on Islam is just as political as wanting a debate on Islam. What’s the ideological difference here?]
"It is out of the question that French society should be influenced by Islam," Sarkozy said. "This is a secular country." [No sharia law in a secular country!]
France24 said one member of the conservative Union for a Popular Movement told right-wing publication Le Figaro: "The role of Islam in France is going to be a central issue in the 2012 presidential campaign." [Just as German Nazism should have been ‘a central issue’ of politics in France and the UK is the 1920s and early 1930s.]
Although Catholicism runs deep in France, secularism is enforced by a 1905 law stating:
"The Republic does not officially recognize, pay salaries for, nor subsidize any religion. [As Protestantism and Catholicism ‘run deep’ in the UK.]
"It is henceforth forbidden to erect or display any religious signs or emblems publicly, and political meetings may not take place in places of worship." [But what if a religion, such as Islam, is inherently or essentially political?]
Legislation in 2004 banned the display of religious symbols, including crucifixes, in schools, and last autumn the ban was extended to include the wearing of the full Islamic veil in public places. [I’m not sure about an outright ban. For a start, France has a Christian heritage and most French people are indeed Christians. In addition, a burka, for instance, is very different to a crucifix. A burka can be read as a political statement of Muslim isolationism and a commitment to Islamism. The crucifix, on the other hand, is not an inherently political symbol; though, of course, it can be used politically.]
The law also bans religious processions but does not address prayer meetings in the city streets, some resulting from overcrowding issues. [This is relevant in France, and Italy, because on frequent occasions hundreds, if not thousands, of Muslims have taken over the streets of Paris and Rome to ostensibly say prayers. Although, in actual fact, these mass prayers are symbols of Islamic power within Dar al-Harb (the Abode of War).]
"We need to have a debate on prayer meetings in the streets," France24 reported Sarkozy said to his right-wing faithful. "In a secular country, we cannot tolerate having a public call to prayer."