September 15, 2019
  • 9:12 am The 6 Questions That Led Me to Christianity
  • 9:12 am Christianity and Humanism – Stefan Gustavsson (Part 2)
  • 9:12 am Jagmeet Singh on the campaign trail | Day 2
  • 9:12 am Amrit Vela
  • 9:12 am The Differences Between The Major Branches Of Islam
Jews and Muslims from North Africa to France

France has this very distinct notion about
what it means to create an inclusionary society that really comes out of the ideals of the
French Revolution, which is that anyone can become French, but they need to accept that
what it means to be a French citizen is to be kind of unencumbered in the public sphere.
And what could be a hindrance in the public sphere includes things like loyalty to the
country from which you came if you’re an immigrant, loyalty to an ethno-religious group. So, that
means that a certain level of integration can only be achieved if you are sort of looking
French, speaking French, seeming French like everybody else in public. Now one of the things
I do try to argue in the book is that this was always more rhetoric and myth at a certain
level than reality. Particularly during the imperial period, France is sort of of necessity
a multi-ethnic empire, given how vast its geographical reach is and how diverse it’s
becoming already in the twenties and thirties. In the case of Jews, in particular, Jews have
been thought about as sort of by far the most important ethno-religious minority in modern
French history, this kind of “test case” for French democracy, this way of measuring how
inclusive France is at different historical moments. In the case of Muslims, Muslims have
largely been located outside of mainland France in what’s been written about Muslims in relation
to France, until thinking about them, you know, toward the end of the twentieth century,
beginning of the twenty-first century. And they’ve been thought about really as colonized
subjects, as resistors against colonialism, rather than as people who lived in relatively
significant numbers already a series of different kinds of lives in the mainland from the teens
and twenties onward. And, so, when we put Jews and Muslims together we get some comparative
perspective, but we also see how their relationships with various people in French society–particularly
with each other–were really mediated through their understandings of what it meant to be
French, who was French, who was not French. For some Jews and Muslims there was a sense
of a religious proximity, because of the fact that both faiths are Abrahamic, they share
certain rituals, they had certain common histories in North Africa. For other Jews and Muslims,
being religious was–by definition almost–connected to opposing loyalties in the context of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But there are many contexts in which that only did not produce
tremendous mutual hostility. Consciousness of multi-ethnicity does not by definition
mean conflict, does not by definition mean that Jews and Muslims will be unable to coexist.
What’s taken place most recently in France is not the only case of encounters between
Muslims and Jews in France that are happening at this very moment. It’s the one that’s in
the headlines, it’s the one that’s violent, and it troubles us, and it should trouble us.
But it’s important to have a longer context partly simply to realize that a sense of crisis,
a sense of deep questions about whether the Republic can adapt, is not altogether new. (applause)

Jean Kelley



  1. Blither box Posted on May 8, 2018 at 12:09 am

    France is a waste of time. People should vacation there just to piss on historical sites.