Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Quote of the day

From a column published under Nicolas Sarkozy's name in Le Monde in early December (my trans.):
"I say to my Muslim compatriots that I will do everything so that they can feel that they are citizens like all others, enjoying the same rights to live in accord with their faith, to practice their religion with the same freedom and dignity. I will fight against all forms of discrimination.

"But I also want to tell them that in our country, where Christian civilization [la civilisation chrétienne] has left a deep trace, where the values of the Republic are an integral part of our national identity, anything which could appear as a challenge launched at that heritage and those values would doom to failure the establishment of an Islam in France which, without renouncing any of its essentials [sans rien renier de ce qui le fonde], could travel the path to inclusion in our social and civic compacts [note: this is a very loose translation of the last phrase of the passage: aura su trouver en lui-même les voies par lesquelles il s'inclura sans heurt dans notre pacte social et notre pacte civique]."


Anonymous said...

If this means what I think it means, Vive La France!

Anonymous said...

LFC, do you know if anyone has been talking about how French colonization of Algeria has impacted what it means to be French?
If not, no worries, I will keep looking.

LFC said...

Well, the first thing I should admit is that I don't really read the French press -- a friend sent me by email the Sarkozy column that is quoted in this post.

Chris Bertram at Crooked Timber (http://crookedtimber.org) put up a post not too long ago which, although not exactly about the question you raise, did bring up the issue of the forced un-veiling of (some) Algerian women by the French; the post was followed, as usual at CT, by a long comment thread. (If you go to CT and search on Algeria or for C. Bertram's recent posts, you should find it.)

I would think theorists of nationalism, postcoloniality etc. have written about this question, but I don't know the literature all that well (in fact you know it much better than I do).
For historical perspective though you might take a look at, e.g., Tony Smith's The French Stake in Algeria, Ian Lustick's Unsettled States, Disputed Lands, and maybe Miles Kahler's Decolonization in Britain and France.

I have recently come into (temporary) possession of memoirs (in French) by a man who was a Protestant pastor in Algeria during the last period of French rule: Roby Bois, Sous la grele des dementis: Recits d'Algerie (1948-1959) [Under the Hail of Denial] (L'Harmattan, 2009). But I haven't done more than briefly dip into it yet.

Sorry I can't be more directly helpful.

Anonymous said...

You have been more than helpful, once again. Thanks for the references, I will follow them up over the summer. I am intrigued by the memoirs. I will look for the translation - thank you!

with much appreciation for your helpfulness,