Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Rough Week in France

Well, France has certainly had a rough week. A couple of thoughts on this whole mess, and in my next posting I'll return to French language and culture issues.

Firstly, whatever their twisted goals, the Brothers Kouachi have done more harm to the Arab cause in France in 48 hours than Marie Le Pen and her (far) right-wing National Front party could've dreamed of doing in a decade. France was already getting wary of not just about Arab militancy but of the growing Arab population, and there's much talk recently of retaining the "French" identity. This horrific act will only convince many Frenchmen on the fence that, yes, something has to be done about these "non-French" French.  Only a few days before the massacre the New York Times ran a piece on the resentment on the part of many French that kabob shops were replacing cafes in many cities and towns (and it an apparent retaliation of the Charlie Hebdo massacre one was bombed last week).

France's large Arab population is the result of years of French colonization in North Africa (Algeria was a French possession into the 1950s!), and many poor Algerians and Moroccans have migrated to the cities of France looking for work and a better life. Travel just a few miles north from the center of Paris and you see what they ended up with: disenfranchised Arabs living in poor neighborhoods, without jobs or prospects.

It's  a pressure cooker, and we've seen the first release. Let's hope the French figure out how to deal with this, and with a watchlist of no less than 5,000 angry young men, some who may have been inspired by last week's events. The French tend to retrench rather than seek conciliation when pressed hard, and that could make for an interesting time.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this thoughtful blog post. It's the first time I've read your blog, but it won't be the last. I am reading your book, Flirting with French, and loving it! In fact, you've made me laugh out loud. I am so glad I am not the only with difficulty knowing when to use "depuis" and when to use "il y a". Also, the problem with counting and numbers...ooh, la, la!


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