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Because it is showily evident


Because it is showily evident:

* That a measure of 3,1415 has a showy geometrical dimension, the head ribbon of the daughter of a professor of mathematics shall only be allowed if the width of that symbolic clothing is limited to 3,1414 or equals a minimum of 3,1416,

* That the golden section is a showy symbolic measurement system for the freemasons, public school shall prevent its children from entering its classrooms when this showy ratio is measured in their outerware or appears openly impressed through those.

Friends of France,

Those are proposals that I let you make available to a minister who seems to me inclined to carry out in a showy way his philosophy to the absurd if I believe the article of Liberation below. (*)

They are all the more showyly useful that this so useful law does not address itself yet to the true problem: the names and first names of the pupils of the public school!

It will however be necessary one day to ensure the secular hexagonalisation of those if one wants to avoid "" our classes being structured according to religious memberships", with the clan of the Catholics here, the one of the Jews there and somewhere else the Muslims ". Isn't it unthinkable that the Pauls, Simones and Pierres can be so easily distinguished from the Alis, Fatimas and Mohameds, of the Davids, Rachels and Simons? For this purpose, I propose that the children are only allowed in the School of the Republic if they carry a neutral first name drawn from the vast choice of the vegetables which grow in the Hexagon: Carrot, Cabbage, Melon, Chicory... (One will avoid politically incorrect Grapes, Apple, Pear or Tobacco that can point out products ostentatiously harmful for the physical and moral health of our children). The names should stress again the traditional soils of the Republic: Picard, Breton, Corsican....

Humanity, protect me from my friends,
As for my enemies, leave them to me.

Paul Fays

(*) Liberation is a paper of the left opposition. This explains a slightly humorous style, but the facts are right.

Secularism: Ferry interprets the law showily
The minister, speaking in Parliament, broadens the interdictions of « signs »
Wednesday January 21 2004

Luc Ferry spoke of the cross of the Syro-chaldeans, the turban of the Sikhs, the bandanna carried "ostententiously"... and of "hairiness."

Thus the law on secularity wants "by no means to stigmatize one religion". Luc ferry said once again yesterday before the Commission of the laws of the French National Assembly, which interviewed him in company of Xavier Darcos on the bill "relating to the application of the principle of secularity in the public schools, colleges and lycées ". For proof, "the Islamic scarf in all its forms" is not the only one targeted

"Invisible Turban".

Let us take, at random, the large crosses, which are also indicated in the text of law. Well, one could meet around fifty of them in the Parisian suburbs, explained Luc Ferry. They are carried by Syro-chaldeans (a branch of the Christians of the East. One was unaware up to that point that it constituted a threat for the one, secular and indivisible Republic). The same for the turban of the Sikhs. As they cannot cut their hair and because they have some more hair at college that at primary school (yes, yes, Luc Ferry really explained it that way), the government favors the idea that they should be gathered under a cap. But a simple net would be less showy, nonetheless than the traditional turban - ­ it is the concept of "invisible turban" (dixit Luc ferry). "Discussions" are on.

The Republic shall be also attentive to attempts at evading the laws, even imaginative ones "The nature of the human being is to create signs", says a wary Ferry. From there it comes that if the bandanna itself is not prohibited, the "showyly" carried bandanna could be regarded as a religious sign. The same for "facial hairiness," ­ the beard in not stigmatizing language. Because Ferry has stressed it: the purpose of the law is not so much the sign itself but the way it is carried ­ "showyly" or not, therefore (there is no doubt that each one will be able to judge it independently of the origins of the pupils concerned, and that a Marie-Chantal in turban will be subject to the same secular rigor that Fatima in bandanna would). Complicated? Let's fall back on the uniform! Christian Vanneste (UMP) did proposed that idea, about which Xavier Darcos answered that "the answer is not excluded" and that "nothing prohibits, now, that the rules of a public school demand it".

The urgency of the Sikhs and Syro-Chaldean threats however has escaped some deputies. So Jean-Christophe Lagarde (UDF) and Yves Durand (PS) said that the law was indeed aimed at a religion, ­ Islam, ­ and at a community, ­ the Arabs. Yves Durand noted that to prohibit the "behaviors" and not only the "signs" indicated the veil. Darcos accepted it by considering "useless" the use of the term "clothing". For Lagarde, "one treats, badly, the only one true problem: the difficulty of the relation of France with Islam ".


Ferry, however, does not base the law on this ground. It comes, he said, in a "rising context of confrontations between the Communities ". It is necessary to avoid "that our school classes organize themselves around religious memberships', with here the clan of the Catholics, there the one of the Jews and elsewhere yet the Muslims". He did repeat that "99 % of the anti-Semitic acts are related to confrontations between the communities", and that their increase, since 2000, " accompany, one can see it clearly, the second intifada". Result: "One witnesses the reflection of an international conflict into the school." Ferry pleads: "I say to the representatives of Islam: do you want our children to fight at school?" This is said without stigmatizing anyone.

The original French report:

The original French text :

Laicite: Ferry interprete ostensiblement la loi
Le ministre, auditionne a l'Assemblee, elargit les interdictions de «signes».
mercredi 21 janvier 2004

Luc Ferry a evoque la croix des syro-chaldeens, le turban des sikhs, le bandana porte «ostensiblement»... et la «pilosite»

Donc la loi sur la laicite ne veut «nullement stigmatiser telle religion». Luc Ferry l'a redit hier devant la commission des lois de l'Assemblee nationale, qui l'auditionnait en compagnie de Xavier Darcos sur le projet de loi «relatif a l'application du principe de laicite dans les ecoles, colleges et lycees publics». Pour preuve, «le foulard islamique sous toutes ses formes» n'est pas le seul vise.

«Turban invisible».

Prenons, au pif, les grandes croix, qui sont egalement designees dans le texte de loi. Eh bien, on en croiserait une cinquantaine en banlieue parisienne, a explique Luc Ferry. Elles sont portees par des syro-chaldeens (une branche des chretiens d'Orient dont on ignorait jusque-la qu'elle constituait une menace pour la Republique une, laique et indivisible). Idem pour le turban des Sikhs. Comme ils ne peuvent pas se couper les cheveux et qu'ils en ont davantage au lycee qu'a l'ecole primaire (si, si, Luc Ferry l'a explique comme ça), les ministres conçoivent bien qu'il faille les regrouper sous une coiffe. Mais un simple filet serait tout de meme moins ostensible que le turban traditionnel ­ c'est le concept de «turban invisible» (dixit Luc Ferry). Des «discussions» sont en cours.

La Republique sera egalement attentive aux tentatives de contournement, fussent-elles imaginatives ­ «le propre de l'etre humain est d'inventer des signes», se mefie Ferry. D'où il ressort que si le bandana en soi n'est pas interdit, le bandana porte «ostensiblement» pourra etre considere comme un signe religieux. Pareil pour la «pilosite» ­ la barbe en langage non stigmatisant. Car Ferry l'a rappele : l'enjeu de la loi porte moins sur le signe lui-meme que sur la façon dont il est porte ­ «ostensiblement» ou pas, donc (nul doute que chacun saura en juger independamment des origines des eleves concernes et que les Marie-Chantal en turban feront l'objet de la meme rigueur laique que les Fatima en bandana). Complique ? Rabattons-nous sur l'uniforme ! C'est ce qu'a propose Christian Vanneste (UMP), a qui Xavier Darcos a repondu que «la question n'est pas exclue» et que «rien n'interdit, en l'etat, que les reglements interieurs des etablissements le proposent».

L'imminence des menaces sikhs et syro-chaldeennes a pourtant echappe a quelques deputes. Jean-Christophe Lagarde (UDF) et Yves Durand (PS) ont ainsi estime que la loi visait bien une religion ­ l'islam ­ et une communaute ­ les Arabes. Yves Durand a releve qu'interdire les «tenues» et pas seulement les «signes» designait le voile ­ ce dont Darcos a convenu en jugeant «inutile» l'emploi du terme «tenue». Pour Lagarde, «on traite, mal, un seul vrai probleme : celui de la difficulte de la relation de la France a l'Islam».


Ferry, lui, ne situe pas la loi sur ce terrain. Elle s'inscrit, a-t-il rappele, dans un «contexte de montee des affrontements communautaires». Il faut eviter «que nos classes se structurent selon les appartenances religieuses, avec ici le clan des catholiques, la celui des juifs, la encore celui des musulmans». Il a repete que «99 % des actes antisemites sont lies a des affrontements communautaires», et que leur recrudescence, depuis 2000, «accompagne, on le voit tres bien, la deuxieme intifada». Resultat : «On assiste a la refraction d'un conflit international a l'ecole.» Ferry de conjurer : «Je le dis aux representants de l'islam : est-ce que vous voulez que nos enfants se battent a l'ecole ?» Ceci dit sans stigmatiser quiconque.

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Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000165.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

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Replies: 10 comments

Being a French citizen, I just have some small comments about your page talking about the law on "laicite" in France. First of all, this debate is only by French citizens, by a democratically-elected French government who is carrying his campaign promises. I do not see why this website, although interesting and instructive, should start talking about it. France is not part of the Middle East, is it?
You are taking the debate completely out of context and the context is the French nation, history and culture. It is not a racist law, and this is why ALL religions are under the same restriction (that religious signs should not be openly visible and provocative). Yes, in order for this law not to be directed at Muslims or Jews or any religion, every faith will have to make concessions.
Please, stop talking about events or debates that you take completely out of context. Leave the French decide for themselves on this matter, and do not let your external and limited point of view appear in your headlines,


Julien Levy

Posted by Julien Levy @ 01/24/2004 12:32 AM CST

It is not just a French debate,it
has spilled over in an insane way
to Belgium also.Incredible,I support mideastweb for focusing on this.Today more then ever the question of "intelligence" is a question of informed opinion and
opinion remains criminally uninformed by evading global cultural issues.
Confrontation with religious symbolism should introduce a standing invitation to the very real ethical debate of which the
acomplished theachers of any and all religion are the repositories.
Instead of introducing a limitless accolade of petty rules,children should be thought
to express the compassionate messages dormant under their headscarfes,caps,heads,beards,or any and all other imaginative way
of wearing the pride of their parents as their own.
At least that is how I see it in my own imagination .Sick for some,
but human enough for me.
I hereby salute my compatriot Paul
Fays and endorse his "maxime".

Posted by tange Jacky @ 01/24/2004 10:18 PM CST

I am "guilty" of having encouraged Paul to post his satire and the original article to MEW Log.

The issue has provoked demonstrations throughout the Muslim world. Sheikh Ikrema Sabri, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, has said that France is making war on Islam.

In fairness, the angry crowds do not seem to know that it is not a general ban on the hijab that is contemplated, but only a ban on wearing it in public schools. Likewise, I am aware that in Saudi Arabia, there is agitation against women who remove the hijab. Freedom of religion must work both ways.

Nonetheless, it is certainly a Bona Fide Middle East issue that has excited demonstrations and newspaper articles throughout the Muslim world, and it is scarcely credible that Julien does not know this. Moreover, while one may support the ban and favor French secularism, it is hardly to be doubted that as reported, Luc Ferry made a parody of himself and of the issues. A news item that is so uproariously funny about an issue that concerns so many in the Middle East is hardly to be ignored.

Ami Isseroff

Posted by Moderator @ 01/25/2004 01:26 PM CST

True, I am no French and I was not writing that France is preparing a racist law. Racist, it isn’t.

Still, such a law is an easy way to address the most visible problem of the immigration without touching at its roots: education, job discrimination, ghettoisation in « cites » around the big cities. One could say it is a veil thrown on problems of immigration that are not specifically French.

Ami has already answered why he thinks this French initiative can’t be ignored in speaking of the problems of the ME.

THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN in today’s New York Time writes:
« A lot of help can and should come from Europe. Although America is often the target, Europe has been the real factory of Arab-Muslim rage. Europe has done an extremely poor job of integrating and employing its growing Muslim minorities, many of which have a deep feeling of alienation. And Europe has done a very poor job of investing in North Africa and the Middle East — its natural backyard. »
And he concludes with this which, French exception notwithstanding, I believe as true for France as for ME as for Belgium: « The war of ideas among Arabs and Muslims can only be fought and won by their own forces of moderation, and those forces can only emerge from a growing middle class with a sense of dignity and hope for the future. Young people who grow up in a context of real economic opportunity, basic rule of law and the right to speak and write what they please don't usually want to blow up the world. They want to be part of it. »

Luc Ferry is a conservative philosopher. He and others in the present French government dream of turning back many freedoms won since 1968, source of all evil for them. Some French politicians of the majority are even considering going back to the uniform in the public schools! Just to ban the veil? Don’t make me laugh!

The situation is quite absurd.

The law of 1905 is quite good enough if one had the courage to use it to separate the State from the Religion: religious symbols can’t be worn by public servants; ceremonies are specifically banned from the public buildings.

It is so true that several French Great Lodges didn't advocate changes to the 1905 law. They can't be suspect of pro-*religion bias.

Problems come only when you want to go from public servants to general public.

And sorry, the « laicite » as they built it in 1905 had for intent to free the republic from the Church encroachments, not to prevent the citizens and residents of France to believe in God, whatever name they give to it.


Posted by Paul Fays @ 01/25/2004 09:04 PM CST

don't worry, at the end it'll be the Jews', I mean of course Zionists' fault anyway ;)

Posted by Miranda @ 01/26/2004 04:50 AM CST

Since introducing myself boldly to MEW on this topic posting from Ghent,Belgium I delved deeper into the content of this site. Some very strong stuff there, and again Pauls pointing out Friedman broadens the debate to its actual field, although I am not sure I know the Europe Friedman is talking about.Being Flemish makes me as european as they come, most people here speak several european languages-french, german, english-and have a broad outlook on matters of opinion. And we know about matters of politics also,living where, so to speak, they count politicians by the square meter.
In my hometown Ghent by far the largest community about to wear the headscarf is from turkish origin.This makes our small "european" problem less arab muslim, but not less middle east related nor less interesting.MEW is doing a lot for my trying to be as clear as possible about such matters,every progress in time does indeed develop "broad" political misunderstandings that become standard formulas.
I think,personally,that much of the "actual" mess stems from a period Edward Said pointed out at the time in:"Covering Islam" when the incredible deffects in U.S.intelligence on the Middle East were laid bare.9/11 was horrible, but I think the real blow came with the Iranian Revolution and the occupation of the American Embassy.That is when we knew great oportunities were lost.This would be about the time when my friends and fellow europeans were reading Henri Corbin on Shi'i Islam,and Idries Shahs introduction to Sufism started to hone down the assets for independant valuation of matters of belief through the Institute for Cultural Research for example.So,yes the materials for engaging the debate are there and yet all we seem able to do is rallying around...indeed,around what?
Looking at the young women wearing the headscarf in my hometown I look at them with great respect,not only because they stand up for themselves(do not underestimate their integrative conciousness)but also because they deserve that respect regardless of their cultural vestiments.Such respect is but an aspect of human decency.
Why should they not wear headscarfes in schools where the potential curriculum involves comparative reading of Chaim Potok and Harper Lee.Let us create the oportunities! It's now or never!

Posted by Jacky tange @ 01/26/2004 10:44 PM CST

To expand by analogy on the fact that integration, education are the main items for women rights and secularism, the following report show that when they are educated, women choose to fight for their right.

Also, that in that case, the veil is not the point they start with.

Also in the West, feminism did start by the education of women.

In Europe, the matter concern immigrants and integration becomes as important as education.


Saudi women demand women's rights from crown prince Abdullah
Saudi Arabia, Politics, 12/31/2003
The second session of the "national dialogue" continued deliberations in Mecca, where a group of
Saudi women, most of them are university graduate called in a petition submitted to the crown prince
Abdullah to found a higher council for women and to draw "special rules concerning the family in
'divorce cases.'"

A group of Saudi women demanded in a petition signed by more than 300 Saudi women, from various
parts of the Kingdom, for 8 demands, mainly to "recognize woman as eligible, without the need to
have the escort of the legal supervisor ( such as a father, husband or brother ), to be present in
case a trade registration record is needed for a woman to start business."

The petition read that "the woman is in need to get her own legitimate and civil right, starting
from her right to learn, work, and health care, but not to be conditioned on the permission of "the
legal supervisor.. to her rights to transfer her property after her death to her inheritors under
the rule of civil service on equal footing with man."

The women signatories of the petition, academics, intellectuals ,and employees from various parts of
the Kingdom called for the system of "compulsory education for both boys and girls, and to open up
new fields and specializations for the woman in universities, faculties and technical and
technological faculties, as well as correcting the image of the woman in the educational programs
and in audio-visual media."

The petition also called for opening the doors before women in government ministries and
commissions, and to "appoint qualified women in leading posts and decision making centers, and to
open work markets in all its fields without exception before those qualified for working." The women
signatories in the petition "for permits to form civil society groups, trade unions, and cultural
and scientific clubsÉ and encouraging women to join them." The women also demanded "to deal with
Saudi women married to non-Saudis and their children on equal footing with Saudi men married to
non-Saudi women."

The petition said that in order "in order to achieve these ambitions effectively, we suggest the
foundation of a higher council for woman affairs" to deal with several issues of concern to women's
general and private affairs.

Posted by Paul @ 01/28/2004 09:01 AM CST

Some more comments in reply to Jacky.

The topic is important, but perhaps this is the wrong article for presenting it. Luc Ferry made a parody of himself, and Paul made a better parody, so I thought it was good to post both. Ferry, however, does not represent the proposed law very well.

The "pluralistic society" doctrine dictates that within a society, there should be the greatest variety of opinion and of individual freedom of expression. That seems to be what you are advocating. However, you are inconsistent in applying it.

Muslims marched in protest against this proposed ban on their freedom, and you support them. In Saudi Arabia, women cannot get driving licences, and worship in faiths other than Islam is greatly restricted. I do not see, however, that anyone in Belgium or France has organized demonstrations regarding freedom of worship in Saudia or in Pakistan, where a Christian school was firebombed, or that the matter causes much concern in Europe. In Bangladesh, we have a journalist who is in jail for opposing Islamist fundamentalism. I do not see a great concern over this problem among the French or Belgian people. So we have to consider, who are the enemies of the open society, and what threats to the open society should get primacy?

If you want to understand the current problem, it may not be so relevant to study Sufism, but rather to study Said Qutb and Mawdoodi, and to find out what they have to say about democracy and about women. It is more relevant to compare Qutb to Karl Popper than it is to compare Harper Lee to Potok.

The French Republic decided that they would have a secular society. In the "pluralistic society" of nations, perhaps it should be their right to decide how they define their society and how it should be run.

It is interesting that you mention Turkish Islamic people. Did Ataturk have the right to ban the veil and the fez? Do young Turkish girls wear veils in school?

Ami Isseroff

Posted by Moderator @ 01/28/2004 08:10 PM CST

Thank you for replying to my remarks.
The reason I mentioned Chaim Potok and Harper Lee was because I thought they would better adress the issues at the level of youth.Potoks "The Chosen"for instance deals with a frienship between an orthodox and a modern jew at highschool,and-more important-with the reasons why their friendship upholds;Harper Lee wrote brilliantly about racism in the Southern States of America-as seen through the eyes of a nine year old girl.
The reason I had youth in mind was because the girl I see now wearing a veil is the girl that years ago I saw as a six year old, benefitting from her first year on a local school,translating for her mother while shopping in their new world.Now the same girl is eloquently adressing her own problems against the odds.That is why I respect her and will continue to do so.
But perhaps I should be more outspoken about the respect I have for you,Ami. It is the same respect.I quite understand the itchyness my remarks must bring.
As an individual I find it impossible to apologize for the killing and maiming an dying :my heart bleeds and I weep.That much is within my power.
And sometimes I weep reading Potok,or Lee(never wept over Popper).
And I will probably die weeping, a very old man , because change is not going to come soon.
As for studying sufism ,you might as well,after all it appears to have been a driving force in Chechnia,and was it not the Chechens that introduced the tactic of borderless war that under the guise of Qaeda now makes such a mess of things?
I am sorry I am not the Belgian People,nor the French,nor the Israelian or the Palesteninian,it would make things indeed a lot easier.
I hope I can remain your friend though,
love Jacky

Posted by Jacky tange @ 01/28/2004 11:02 PM CST

At the risk of being terribly out of bounds,taking up so much webspace.
I just read in the newspaper that the towncouncil of Ghent(my hometown)ruled the wearing of headscarfes in townsubsidised schools as being no problem.The interesting thing is they did so in counterargument to a proposal
by the ultra-right party Flemish Bloc.This party is downright "negationist" and is currently under treath of having their partyfunding withdrawn by parliament for exactly that reason.Ghent has so far been the only belgian town where the slow but steady growth of their menace has been stemmed in elections.
The argumentation of the alderman was that a clear vieuw of the difference between the "institute"-the schoolbuilding,its personel,the theachers,where there should be no outward sign of religion-and the "public" has to be understood.Veiled and unveiled women toghether had met in a rally to contest the possible acception of the right-wing proposal.It is no secret that the "cordon sanitaire" the gentlemans agreement by all the democratic parties not to cooperate with the racist Bloc seems to be unpractical in parliament.
So here we are.An experiment worth following?

Posted by Jacky tange @ 01/29/2004 07:38 PM CST

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