Tag Archives: France

The French War On Religious Freedom

France has long held a ban on overt expressions of religion in public, being one of the first European countries to have banned full face covering in public in 2010. While similar laws have gained traction in neighboring countries, following the tragic Bastille Day massacre in Cannes a number of French coastal towns have passed ordinances banning the “burkini”, a swimsuit for conservative Muslim women.

tumblr_o8amet9tl41urhgo2o2_540

No, not that one. That’s a wet suit.

tumblr_m7s65duz4r1qg88z5o1_500

No, that’s also a wet suit.

Muslim Lifesavers Unveil The 'Burqini'

There we go.

But I’m guessing you can see the problem already. Continue reading

Advertisements

Five Requests Of An Angry Young Man

I’m not going to pretend that I speak for all Millennials.

I grew up overseas. The 90s nostalgia over cartoons, cereal, and toys was never part of my life. I’d made plenty of trips back to the US, but never really spent any time in the culture until I was 17, arriving on the shores of the new world like the opening of some cliched immigrant story.

tumblr_o0ghzxggr51ujwj3ho1_500

Not quite so dramatically, but I was still very much a stranger in a strange land…

So maybe I’m looking at things through a strange, distorted lens. Maybe I’m alone in feeling that I’ve been seriously shortchanged on my future in the land of opportunity.

But I don’t think so.

Still, as I was writing this, I was starting to have second thoughts. Maybe my tone was too harsh, my criticisms to generalized, my frustration too warrant-less.

And then I watched this SNL skit titled “The Millennials

“Beautiful twenty-somethings (Kate McKinnon, Pete Davidson, Miley Cyrus, Jon Rudnitsky) search for the love and success they’re entitled to on The Millennials.”

We watch a couple god-awful caricatures of Generation Y make outlandish demands of their sensible, long-suffering precursors. Near the end of the sketch, one of the smarmy Millennials threatens to jump out of a window. The two older workers stand back and say:

“Just do it.”

apwe

Cue the applause and cheers from the audience.

So yeah, **** being nice and measured here. Let me break down what I’m sick and tired of hearing from Gen X and their Boomer counterparts:

I. Kindly Ease Up With Demanding That I Get Married/Have Kids

Yes, Millennials are getting married later than previous generations, but the average has only only gone up by a couple years. Yet to hear some folks talk, you’d think Millennials were actively attempting to dismantle the institution of marriage entirely.

I guess I just don’t understand what the big deal is.

Right along there with the pressure to get married is the pressure to spawn offspring- though again, the exact why isn’t ever really covered.

It almost seems to be presented as some kind of civic duty. That establishing the nuclear family is vital to ze velbeing of ze fatherland.

And I could deal with that.

I disagree with it, but I could deal with it as an argument. Just not one presented by the Boomers and Gen Xers.

I mean, seriously.

Boomers? Continue reading

Rachel Brown on Food, Religious Identity, and the Appeal of Muslim Extremists

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to hear PhD candidate Rachel Brown speak about her research on food and religious identity in French and Quebecois Muslim immigrant communities. I found Brown’s talk fascinating and contacted her soon afterwards; I wanted to find out if her work was publicly available so I could write about it here on the blog. While Brown has written a chapter on her work for an academic publication it hasn’t been published quite yet. Lucky for me, Brown was willing to share a draft with me. Throughout this interview I will be referring to, and occasionally quoting, that draft in order to give you context for the questions I ask Brown.

According to Brown, her “primary research interest lies in the study of immigrant religious experience and how members of immigrant communities negotiate their religious identities through food and food practices in their host countries.” In order to write on this topic, Brown conducted fieldwork and semi-structured interviews in both Paris, France and Montreal, Quebec.

This was the most French gif I could find.

Kat: Hi Rachel, thanks again for being willing to share your research with me and our readers. Before I dive into the questions I have from reading your draft, can I ask, what drew you to this area of study?

Brown: I came to the project out of a love of all things food and all things France. On one of my many visits, I noticed that how and what the Muslim community in France ate was a point of interest for media, politics, and everyday conversation on the street between friends and neighbours. There was clearly a subject to be addressed. I figured if I was going to be in the field for a year I might as well be somewhere I love and studying something I am passionate about, and so I set out to study the topic of food and religion. As I got further and further into the topic I realized just how essential food practice is to identity, especially religious identity and my research has grown exponentially ever since. The importance of food in religious identity negotiation for immigrants can be seen across a variety of locations and traditions.

Kat: I’m also curious about the technical side of things. Did you intentionally limit your case studies to individuals from the Maghreb? If yes, then why? Also, how did you go about arranging these interviews, or even making these connections in the first place?

Brown: I definitely limited my study to individuals from the Maghreb. I did this because the largest Muslim community in both France and Quebec comes from the countries of the Maghreb. This is not only because of proximity, of the Maghreb to France, but also because of a colonial history between France and the countries of the Maghreb. When one thinks of Muslims in France, this is most often the community that comes to mind.

In terms of arranging the interviews, this was a tough process. I started by going to the Grand Mosque of Paris and just getting to know people there. I had to build up trust, and spent many hours just helping out at the mosque in order to show that I was not a journalist (a profession folks are very hesitant of in France) and that I meant well with my research. After people got to know me, some started to agree to do personal interviews with me. Once I conducted the first interviews the people I interviewed then put me in contact with friends or family members to interview. So I followed a snowball methodology. It was not easy to get people to talk to me, but because my topic is such an approachable one (who doesn’t want to talk about food?), it made it a little bit easier to get people to agree to interviews. Having the personal connection, and a validation from friends or family members that had already done the interview was also key. Continue reading

Je suis Miyazaki?

While the tragic terrorist attack on the offices of French satirical paper Charlie Hebdo may be a month behind us, that doesn’t mean that a lot of people aren’t still talking about it.  Most recently, one of those people is (quite surprisingly, given his reclusive reputation) famed animator and all around wonderful human being Hayao Miyazaki.

Now if you don’t already know who this guy is, you are a deprived human being.  Go watch Spirited Away, seriously.  The guy is responsible for some of the most beautiful, creative, and thought-provoking animated films of our age.  He also has some great stuff to say about the state of animation in his home country of Japan.

But anyway, Charlie Hebdo.  In case you’ve been living under a rock, a quick summary:  the aforementioned French satirical paper often featured crude, insulting cartoons mocking various religions, and recently contained a few choice ‘toons about the prophet Muhammad, which then sparked a brutal terrorist attack in which 12 of its staff were killed.  Since then, sales of the periodical have skyrocketed, and many have marched in support of Charlie Hebdo under the banner of “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”).  All in all, the victims have been seen as martyrs for “free speech.”

And what does Miyazaki have to say about all of this?  Well, basically, that the Charlie Hebdo comics were a “mistake.”

Clearly, this will not sit well with many.  But hey, let’s let the man explain.

“For me, I think it’s a mistake to make caricatures of what different cultures worship […] It’s a good idea to stop doing that.”

[via Kotaku‘s translation from Yahoo! News].”

So basically… He wants people to be respectful of the dearly held beliefs of others.

Continue reading

Guaranteed Minimum Income

Your name is John/Jane Smith, and you are an American citizen 18 years of age or older. On this merit alone, you will receive approximately 300 dollars per month to be deposited in a bank account of your choosing.

That right there is the gist of Guaranteed Minimum Income and the subject of today’s discussion. Continue reading

Fame Day: Nate’s Vlogs

We really can’t get started on Fame Day without giving a shout-out to the youth of France, who have turned out en masse over the past couple days in protest of  the forcible deportation of a Roma student who was taken from a school bus in the middle of a field trip. These students have been actively calling for the resignation of the popular anti-Roma Interior Minister, Manuel Valls, to resign, and since the beginning of the protests, French President Hollande has caved to the protest and declared that the formerly expelled Roma student will be allowed to return to school.

For all the flak I give France for their issues with bigotry and Islamophobia, I really have to tip my hat to these students. These are high schoolers coming out across the country to demand justice from their government, and lo and behold, they got responded to (in a way that didn’t exclusively involve tear gas). This took some guts and ingenuity I wish the youth in the US had- I don’t know the last time high schoolers protested independently on any issue (since the 70s, at least), and I really wish the same tradition of dissidence existed over here as it does in other countries.

But let’s move on to the star of the day:

Nate’s Vlogs.

Continue reading

Fame Day: France Against Child Beauty Pageants

Look at that image on the right. Look at it. Falling back on that whole idea that “a picture is worth a thousand words” that should really be all I need to present to make the point that child beauty pageants are really not a good thing.

I like to fall back on facts, though, so I went out of my way to Google the words “how child beauty pageant facts” and clicked on an article helpfully titled “5 reasons child pageants are bad for kids.

This article had some pretty standard stuff like how these girls are too young to refuse and how they’re clearly being sexualized through these pageants [I’ll be referring to the latter article again later]. What surprised me the most was their fourth reason, which was that hair spray can actually act as a hormone disruptor and stunt growth or cause lung cancer. Continue reading