Le Vrai Changement
And Cranmer is not talking of Sunni, Shi’a or Sufi - though he would hazard a guess that Monsieur Latrèche is of the Sunni persuasion – but whether he is a moderate extremist or an extreme moderate; a political Muslim or a religious Islamist.
His manifesto reads like a list of demands: it is not so much what Monsieur Latrèche will do for Strasbourg, but what Strasbourg must do for Monsieur Latrèche. The PMF demands, inter alia:
1 A Muslim cemetery with rights in perpetuity.
2 A school for girls who are deprived of an education through the ‘ban on the hijab’.
3 Halal meals in school, cafeterias, hospitals, etc.
4 Dignified places of worship responding to the needs of the Muslims of Strasbourg.
5 Special schedules at swimming pools for Muslim girls.
The reality is that the PMF is a strongly anti-Semitic and Holocaust-denying party, which Mohamed Latrèche founded in 1997. It strives to participate in all elections, but has never polled more than 0.67 percent locally (Strasbourg, 1997). On 7 October 2000 it led a 3,000-strong demonstration against Israel, during which the slogan ‘Death to the Jews’ was heard.
But there is an interesting dimension to the rise of this group, as Gaëlle Mann observes: ‘Is it normal in a “laic” country (where Church and State are separate), for a purely religious party such as the PMF to vie for the votes of the electorate?’
A helpful reader offers a response: ‘Of course, dear Gaëlle, it is perfectly normal for a Muslim religious party to present candidates in the election, since we live in a “laic” country. On the other hand it would be abnormal for a Catholic religious party to present candidates, since we live in a “laic” country.’
With 0.67% of the vote, there is no changement coming Strasbourg’s way, vrai or otherwise, but France is developing prophetic antennae that future strife may be prevented now, and she would do well to consider 30 years down the line. As long as she continues to ignore her traditions, culture and history, she is heading inexorably for another bloody revolution.
Laïcité by itself ‘does not necessarily imply any hostility of the government with respect to religion. It is best described as a belief that government and political issues should be kept separate from religious organisations and religious issues (as long as the latter do not have notable social consequences). This is meant to protect both the government from any possible interference from religious organisations, and to protect the religious organisation from political quarrels and controversies.’
It is indeed ironic that the very mechanism by which Christianity is removed from a system of government appears to admit Islam, and doubtless does so under some minority ‘rights’ legislation. But why is a ‘Muslim Party’ not as constitutionally unacceptable to secular France as a Catholic Party?