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Why yes, I do think the French model of laïcité is bullshit and no, you won’t change my mind by insulting my intelligence


A good article in the blogosphere lately  (HT Stephanie) got me thinking again about laïcité , the form of legal Islamophobia the French want to pretend has been part of their culture and society since time immemorial.  I’m not buying what the French are selling, laïcité is a giant load of crap, and nothing anyone can ever say in defense of the subject will change my mind about how utterly horrible, misguided and wrong laïcité is as it is practiced in France.  I don’t care if you call me stupid, you should care that you are a bigot if you think laïcité is awesome and I am publicly judging you. Why don’t I like it?

1. I think it is veiled (tee hee, a hijab joke, I’m so punny) “racism” masking as Islamophobia. It’s not pc any more to say you don’t like Arabs or Black people, but you can attack the religion of some of them and still feel smug in your white mainstreamness. I’m not the only one who says this.  Laïcité now is what the “integration” arguments were in the 80s and 90s. Same discourse, but this time it is about attacking Islam.

2. A lot of people equate laïcité with being anti-hijab and anti-Islam insofar as DERP ISLAM HATES WOMEN or something. I   think people who call themselves feminists should accept that their sisters in “womanity” have different ways of practicing feminism and that just because one of your sisters doesn’t agree with you 100% of the time, you still don’t have a reason to pull her feminist card.  I think it is intellectually irresponsible to base your logical argument on either the assumption that a woman who choses to veil is misguided, or that a woman can only call herself a Muslim feminist if she doesn’t wear one.

3. Laïcité doesn’t make people more equal, the only thing equal about it is all believers are at the same level when it comes to state-enforced atheism.  Muslim women suffer under it the most but in reality anyone who chooses to practice a religion gets screwed.  Again, a lot of proponents of anti-veil discourse try to say that not having a veil means women are liberated and don’t have to listen to men any more, but they discount choices freely made by women. It is demeaning to think that everyone who wears a veil is either “misguided as to the true nature of Islam because [insert pundit here] said it wasn’t necessary” in the book you read or because her father or brother made her do it.

My favorite is when the trolls come out and say Muslims disrespect other believers as if that is a reason to sign on to laïcité .  I believe in freedom for all religions. Dude wants to wear a pasta strainer on his head? LOVE IT. My Christian friend wants to homeschool her kids? When can she teach me?  Sikh dude needs his knife? Bring it. Don’t ascribe to me feelings towards other religions.  A close second to that is being told that I haven’t read enough shite French “intellectuals” have put out to truly have the knowledge necessary to have an opinion.  I don’t need to pick up and touch a steaming pile of cow dung to know that it is, in fact, cow dung.

I’m a proponent of secularism, when it means secularism is the only way to give each religion equal footing. When I was in high school- a state-funded public high school in the state of Lousiana- our principal at the time “got saved” and decided we needed to have a moment of prayer each morning.  I would have been cool with that except for the fact that around Ramadan time, one of the sole Muslim students there (who wasn’t practicing but wanted to test what Principal Jerkwad would say) asked if he could have ten minutes out of class to pray asr.  OF COURSE NOT. But we could spend ten minutes in the morning doing Christian stuff in our public school.

The problem with French laïcité however, is that it creates inequality. You aren’t allowed to believe anything, but Christmas is still holiday, no one can touch all the ponts in May, and oh noes, not Pentecost or Assumption. Meanwhile Muslim women can’t even walk in the street, much less work or go to school.  You can twist that all you want, but Muslim women are the ones who suffer under laïcité and to maintain the fiction that laïcité  actually protects them or anyone else is foolish and dangerous.

But of course, far be it from any Muslim to say that. Any time any Muslim says anything about laïcité , it turns into an argument about how we want to create a khalifah in Europe, how we aren’t intellectually sophisticated enough to understand what laïcité  REALLY means, or that we are stuck in a victim cycle where we think everything is about us.

What is really going on is that I am absolutely tired- tired of the Caroline Fourests and the Manuel Valls of this world, tired of being treated like a demented child for choosing a religion, tired of having to constantly listen to the same old trite memes about Islam from ignorant bigots who think they are smart.


Author: Nicole Cunningham

American Expat and convert to Islam living and working between Lausanne and Zurich, Switzerland.

2 thoughts on “Why yes, I do think the French model of laïcité is bullshit and no, you won’t change my mind by insulting my intelligence

  1. To think that laïcité is all about Muslim hatred is very short sighted but I don’t blame you, many people in France have used the concept of laïcité as a shield for their fear of extremists.
    Don’t let them win by being ill-informed and read this article to see that laïcité is actually not against religion.

    just an extract:

    “La laïcité de la république n’est pas la prohibition du fait religieux dans l’espace public. Ceux qui disent qu’ils n’ont rien contre les religions à condition qu’elles s’exercent dans un cadre strictement privé, généralement restreint au domicile et aux établissement du culte, portes dûment closes, mais désapprouvent tout signe indiquant la croyance religieuse de celui l’arbore dans la rue, deux-là ne respectent pas la laïcité. Une loi réalisant leur désir violerait la laïcité, en restreignant arbitrairement l’exercice d’un culte pour des raisons n’ayant aucun lien avec l’ordre public (la vue d’une kippa ou d’un hidjab ne trouble pas l’ordre public, même si elle vous trouble vous ; dans ce cas ce n’est pas la religion le problème mais votre intolérance).”

    The rest is here

    And see in the comments that a lot of people actually agree with this view

    • To call me “shortsighted” for being against laïcité is the same as calling me stupid. Maitre Eolas is pretty standard fare as far as general culture is concerned and someone i read often. He still hasn’t changed my mind. People who are for laïcité are bigots on the wrong side of history. Despite calling me names, I appreciate the time you took to visit my blog and comment, and i hope in future posts we can find common ground on which to discuss.

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