Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Outside View: Immigrants in France - (United Press International)

Outside View: Immigrants in France

By Robert Levine
Outside View Commentator

Washington, DC, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- The United States and France face the parallel problem of assimilating large groups of culturally different immigrants: Hispanics in the United States, North Africans in France. History suggests the United States will incorporate the new entrants more or less smoothly while the French are likely to fail.

The first immigrants to enter the United States in large numbers were the Irish in 1845. Italians and East European Jews followed, starting 40 years later. The key to their assimilation has been that U.S. culture has changed even as it 'Americanized' the newcomers. In spite of current alarms, the Hispanic wave looks little different.

France remains the European nation most open to immigrants, assimilating individuals into traditional French culture. The North Africans constitute the first massive wave. Many want to retain elements of their own culture and the other French are resisting mightily.

Until 1845, the United States could be characterized as an Anglo-Saxon Protestant society; although black slaves modified the culture from the start. Catholicism was tolerated but mistrusted. Germans constituted a small node.

The Irish potato famine forced emigration so rapid that by 1850, 10 percent of the U.S. population was Irish. They were different. Anti-Catholicism burgeoned and employers refused to hire the Irish, forcing them to depend on their own economy. Communal clashes were common. They gradually found public jobs, many as policemen. They forced their way into politics -- in 1905, John Fitzgerald Kennedy's grandfather became the first Irish mayor of Boston.


The Death of France's "Multiculturalism" by Nidra Poller

The Death of France's "Multiculturalism" by Nidra Poller

By Nidra Poller | March 30, 2005

October 2000, Place de la République in Paris: the first of what would become an endless series of ambiguous pro-Palestinian demonstrations welcomed the snake of anti-Semitism into its heart. “Death to the Jews” rang out loud and clear that day as policemen stood by, journalists watched with apparent indifference, and the mass of demonstrators thronged and thrust as demonstrators do.

8 March 2005, Place de la République: a thousand young toughs pierced the heart of a student demonstration and unleashed their rage…not against the police but against the “privileged classes” in their own age group—the protesting lycée students. Operating in gangs of ten and twenty, the casseurs (smashers) in brand-name sweat suits swept through the march like pirate ships, zeroed in on their prey, attacked from behind. They threw kids to the ground, gratuitously beating and kicking them, snatching handbags, ipods, wallets, and cell phones. Riot police looking like robots with their thick leather padding stood by as the predators cut through the crowd wielding knives, clubs, and tear gas bombs.

In the space of a few hours the hallowed tradition of student protest imploded. But trouble had been brewing since January when the lycée students started organizing to oppose la loi Fillon, an umpteenth educational reform project proposed by the current Minister of Education, François Fillon. The previous minister was brought down by similar protests against a different sort of reform. This is the way the system goes, educational reform followed by protest and so on and so forth, while no one is offering any project that could address the acute crisis that is shaking the very foundations of the French educational system. And, precisely, the lycée--which is the equivalent of high school


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

"She deserved what she got --the whore lived like a German." - Berlin's Honor Killings by Sonia Phalnikar

FrontPage :: Berlin's Honor Killings by Sonia Phalnikar

Berlin's Honor Killings
By Sonia Phalnikar

Frontpage Magazine via Deutsche Welle | March 2, 2005

On a cold afternoon this week, Hatin Sürücü gazed gravely from a large poster behind a bus stop lined with flowers, cards and candles.

To the people who came to this bleak part of Berlin's Tempelhof district for Tuesday's solemn vigil -- called not by the city's Muslim community but a gay and lesbian organization -- the image of the young woman in a headscarf, a baby in her arms, was familiar from newspapers and television. A few notes at the memorial read, 'Hope you get a better deal in your next life,' and 'Live a life on your own terms.'

'It's a scandal,' said Ali K, 33. 'All Muslims in Berlin should take to the streets to protest.' Yasemin, 22, said, 'It's horrific. All Hatin was doing was leading her life the way she wanted.'

But it was a choice she paid for with her life. On Feb. 7, 23-year-old Hatin Sürücü was gunned down at the aforementioned bus stop. She died on the spot. Shortly afterwards, three of her brothers -- who reportedly had long been threatening her -- were arrested. Investigators suspect it was a so-called 'honor killing,' given the fact that Sürücü's ultra-conservative Turkish-Kurdish family strongly disapproved of her modern and 'un-Islamic' life.

Sürücü grew up in Berlin and was married off at 16 to a cousin in Istanbul. After a few years, she returned to the German capital with her young son, moved into a home for single mothers, completed school and began to train as an electrician. She stopped wearing a headscarf and was said to be outgoing and vivacious.

"She lived like a German"

Though not the first of its kind, the brazen shooting has sent shockwaves through Berlin, home to a large foreign community and which for years has fretted over steady ghetto-building in districts dominated by Turkish and Arab immigrants. While the incident has reopened debate on the integration of immigrants and the compatibility of Islamic values with Western ones, it’s the reaction of a small group of Turkish students to the murder that has rattled the German capital.

Days after Hatin Sürücü was killed, some male students of Turkish origin at a high school near the scene of the crime reportedly downplayed the act. During a class discussion on the murder, one said, "She (Hatin Sürücü) only had herself to blame," while another remarked "She deserved what she got --the whore lived like a German." The school's director promptly dashed off a letter to parents and students, castigating the students and warning that the school didn’t tolerate incitement against freedom.

"Her lifestyle didn't fit"

The comments have sparked outrage and left many asking if it was just a one-off or whether such thinking is in fact not entirely uncommon among sections of the Muslim community in the city.

According to some, it isn't. "There isn't a single school with a high foreign population where teachers haven't faced this kind of thing, where individual students sometimes regard murder as a just sentence," said Heinz Wagner, head of school and education policy at the VBE teachers trade union and a school director himself. Referring to the controversial remarks on Sürücü's murder, he said, "The very fact that they decided to provoke with something like that tells you that they're getting their ideas from somewhere."

At Berlin's Turkish-dominated neighborhood near Kottbusser Tor in the Kreuzberg district, 17-year-old Erkan, a high school student of Turkish origin, was divided about the issue. "I'm not saying you should murder, but Hatin's lifestyle just didn't fit the way traditional Muslims live," he said.