The atrocities of Charlie Hebdo and the ensuing aftermath bring to the surface an ongoing debate over the identity of “French Muslims” or “Muslims in France.” Is their primary identity nationalistic or religious? Are the two mutually exclusive? Some Muslims likely feel there is more going on here than cartoon drawings.
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Okay. So before we even get into the show, I think we just need to say a word about how, this is one of the harder shows to do because it’s so in the media right now and there’s been 17 people that have lost their life. Real people with souls. Yeah. Yeah.

And so the loss of life is, is real. People have are mourning and, people are pleading with with God or or whoever for answers. And, we just we need to take a minute and recognize that there’s been a huge loss in in France and just make sure that we are praying for France, for the French people, both Muslim, non Muslim. Pray for the church in France that they would find this as an opportunity to show the love of Christ. So before we get into any of this, because the last thing I would wanna do is talk about something that is so polarizing, and anybody get the impression that because we’re trying to understand where Muslims are coming from, that we’re somehow on the side of those that are the extremists because we’re not.

We’re not at all. Right. Yeah. But we do need to talk about the the foundation of what happened and why, from the Muslim perspective, why it happened. And it is important to understand, these guys because I think, ultimately, it’s through understanding that we can, dispel some fears and then also find openings to be able to share our faith.

It was Samuel Zwemer that said a 100 years ago that if we don’t understand the social, prejudices that that Muslims will have, it’ll be a difficulty in us being able to share our faith. So hearing where they’re coming from that would create kind of this, this horrific event, might give us an opportunity to share our faith in Christ. Right. Let’s get back to the show. Once again, Muslim terrorists.

A terrorist attack Islamist extremist. Extremist is not irrelevant. It is a warning. Welcome to the truth about Muslims podcast, the official podcast of the Swimmer Center For Muslim Studies, where we help to educate you beyond the media. Here are your hosts, Howard and Trevor.

Alright. And I know that we said we have a 4 part series, but this episode, we have to just bring a short episode regarding what’s going on in France right now because it’s all over the news and everybody’s wondering what is going on. Can we call this mini podcast? We’re gonna call this a mini podcast. Or a mini cast.

I think that’s actually a thing. No. I don’t think so. I’ve never heard of that. Fine.

It’s a mini cast. Anyway, in the news today, Charlie Hebdo. Yeah. It’s been in the news, for 4 or 5 days here. Right.

And I’ve been following off and on. I think I’ve got it sorted out in my brain. Howard, do you have it sorted out in your brain? No. And do you have it not happened?

Not at all. But No. No. I mean, I’ve read I’ve read the the facts of it. But, you know, like, I don’t know if we’re just interested in the facts.

If we wanted the facts, we could just go to Yahoo or Huffington or whatever. Good point. Good point. So we’re not the facts here. So that’s not the point.

The point is the thoughts behind it, and you have an interesting theory. Well, yeah. I well, yeah. I was You’ve put some thought into this obviously because you you you’ve been dealing with this kind of thinking. Yeah.

Well, I put thought into this back in 2007. Prophetic. I wrote a paper about the banning of the Islamic, hijab in France. Okay. Wait.

Time out. The hijab. Right. The head covering. You’re saying that this has to do with a head covering?

No. I’m saying that’s part of it. Alright. Go ahead. I would never put something of this gravity down to one particular thing.

But, I mean, I think that was kind of the beginning of what we’re seeing today. You’re seeing a connection? Oh, yeah. Okay. I wanna hear it.

Well, I mean, let’s see. 2003 is the, when the headscarf well, actually, the first problems arise in 1989, and it’s now known as the scarf affair. In 1989? Yeah. If you just go and look, look up the scarf affair.

It’s October 3, 1989 when 3 Muslim girls are expelled from middle school for refusing to remove their headscarves. Wow. This is in France. Yeah. Headmaster says, you know, this is a republic.

He’s operating under the principle of what the French call la cite. I don’t know if I said that with a correct French accent. You’re not French. No. No.

But I like to try accents. No. That’s more Spanish. That’s Italian. I have no idea.

Sorry. Just keep going. Alright. So the scarf affair, took place in, like I said, October 3, 1989. Fused to remove their headscarves and the headmaster of the middle school, expelled them, essentially.

Spelled them? Like, they can’t come back? Not suspended? Expelled. Yeah.

Actually, the, there’s been several that have been expelled since then because eventually, this turns into, a big question and it goes to the highest court in France and the court rules on November 27, 19 89 that the wearing, of signs of religious affiliation is not in the con is not in contradiction to the principles of la cite. So they’re allowed to wear their headscarves after that. So the the most Well, that was fast. You said, like, this happened in October and then they they had a ruling in November. Yeah.

Apparently, the French legal system works quicker. Yeah. I’m I’m thinking at least a year. Well, the In America. I think, the Boston bomber alleged Boston bomber, I should say, is on trial now.

They’re picking the jury. And I say alleged now because I have an opinion on the matter. I just say that because in our illegal system, it’s supposed to be innocent till proven guilty. I have no idea. I haven’t read any of the evidence.

So, anyway, yeah. So they decide that you can wear the the headscarf, but then it resurfaces again when the, a new minister of education, comes around and then on September 20, 1994, he says that overt religious symbols should be prohibited in all schools. And that works with everybody. Like, so the Christian guy won’t wear a cross? No.

Oh, man. I’m so glad you mentioned that. He actually said that it was it didn’t apply to, crosses or the Jewish kippah. Mhmm. I don’t know if I said that right either.

Kippah. You’re not Jewish. It’s okay. Yeah. So those are not the religious symbols he was referencing.

And so, specifically, this was, what Muslim immigrants saw or even Muslim French citizens saw as, an attack on Muslims that they couldn’t wear their headscarves again. Well, what about, like, Punjabis or, like, you know, people that wore, like Yeah. The Sikhs were also, told they shouldn’t wear their headscarves. But they have, like, really long hair. Yeah.

I’ve never looked at it from the SEEK perspective so I don’t really know how that worked out but I know there were some SEEK children also that were, pulled out of school basically because it was, and and that was kind of the point I was making in the paper when I wrote it and and I wrote this, 7 years ago. And the reason that I wrote it was I felt like it was a little bit of an injustice on the behalf of a young Muslim girl to be forced to choose between religious devotion Right. And, school. Yeah. You know?

Which shouldn’t be in contradiction. No. No. And I think the part of the point that I was making in that paper, was that if you isolate, that’s not a good idea. Yeah.

So the whole point of it and actually, Howard, it came from a a trip that we had. Do you remember when we went to the, Cherokee reservation? Right. So So we went to the Cherokee reservation, and I remember hearing the, Cherokee chief share his story, you know, hear the Cherokee side of things. Right.

Which was tough. It was. It was a depressing day. It was. And, you know, obviously, looking back in history, it’s like 2020 vision and you can easily say, you know, how did they make those decisions?

The Trail of Tears is such a sad story. Right. You know, Andrew Jackson fighting alongside of the Cherokee against the Creek Indians and then when Andrew Jackson is president issuing, the removal of Indians from Indian lands and then the trail of It was just really hard to hear the Indian, the native American perspective and I remember listening to his perspective and thinking, I have I see something similar happening right now with immigrants in, with a movement towards national identity. And this is all part of the the beginnings of a national identity. This is all post, World War 2, the forming of nation states and then kind of getting everybody to have a national identity except the French have been doing this since the the revolution.

And so the French Right. Idea of a French identity really big to them. Oh, absolutely. It’s big to the world. Right.

That changed the world because it went from having a religious identity where the religious, the spiritual powers, and the temporal powers were 1 and the same and the school systems were run by the church to now French society would be, a secularist society where there would be no it would be utter and complete separation of church and state. If you think that the United States, its views on separation of church and state are fuzzy, French, it’s not. There is no connection with church and state because there was such a, Backlash. A back well, a backlash and it it was what, you know, kinda prompted and was very influential in the French Revolution. So this is very core this is at the very core of French society.

Right. And so, when you have something as important as nationalism to the French, anything that comes against that or they perceive to come against that Yeah. Well, if there’s if there’s something that’s setting yourself apart as other. Right. And this is a key this is a key thing to think about throughout all of history.

If you look at the the formation of western society, if you look at even before, western society, if you just look at societies throughout the history of the world, you will see that the other, the quote unquote they, is always an issue. There’s always a desire to make everyone sort of the same and similar. And when there’s an other, the other oftentimes ends up becoming marginalized, oppressed, persecuted, and this this is kind of a reoccurring theme throughout history. Alright. This week’s sponsors.

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Okay. So so how does all this connect to what’s happening today? Well, eventually, they give the headscarf is banned. In January, 2004. Oh, they overturned it and became banned.

Right. The headscarf ban was passed in legislature in 2004 and it stipulated that in primary and secondary schools, the wearing of signs of religious clothes, through which pupils ostensibly express religious allegiance is forbidden. That’s their their terminology. Wow. So, they walk into schools and they’re all of a sudden non religious.

Right. And so Wow. That’s when that’s when, for Muslim females, anyway, those that do wear the headscarf and I just wanna point this out. Not all Muslim women wear the headscarf. Right.

And some women see the headscarf as an, a sign of oppression and some women see the headscarf as a sign of identity and belonging. Some women wear the headscarf because their parents want them to. Mhmm. Some women wear the headscarf despite their parents’ desire for them not to wear the headscarf. Scarf.

And so, there’s a full gambit here of people wearing the headscarves. Right. But bottom line, the ban, on the headscarf where I thought this might end up becoming problematic is the school system in France, much like the United States, is a place for assimilation. Right. You know what I mean?

Yeah. By that That happens in every school. Right. So what your kids are in what grade? All My my oldest is in 9th grade.

Let’s let’s All the all the way right. All the way to kindergarten. So do do you remember 3rd grade for your kids? Yeah. Actually, yeah.

They remember the state flower. They go to the state house. Mhmm. They learn the state motto. Right.

And every kid in the United States is learning about their state. Like, there is a curriculum that kinda puts us all on the same page. Yeah. You know what I mean? You learn the same things.

You know the same things. Yeah. So French schools aren’t so different. And the reason I brought up I don’t know how I got off of the, the Cherokee, but the one of the saddest parts of that story this all ties together. This all ties together.

Okay. One of the saddest parts of that story I don’t know if you remember this, Howard, but the when the chief was sharing that they set up Cherokee boarding schools. Do you remember him talking about that? There were Cherokee boarding schools. Basically.

What happened? So these Cherokee boarding schools were established and the point of them was that they were forbidden to speak their native language. Oh, yes. Do you remember? Yeah.

They were forbidden to speak their native language. They were forbidden to wear their dress. Their hair was cut. Like, all of the things that made them Cherokee. Right.

Made them different than the national everything that made them Cherokee, that gave them a Cherokee sense of heritage, a Cherokee sense of identity was taken away. Right. But why would they do that? A submission. Right.

Because and I think this is the point. When you look back in history, obviously, it’s clear. And at the time, I’m sure there were people that didn’t think it was a good idea. But in in some sense, it was they were the other, and you can’t have a nation existing within a nation. That was kinda some of the things that were being said politically at the time.

Right. They’re a nation. We can’t have a nation within a nation. We need to assimilate them to be American first, Cherokee second, if at all. Right.

So with with France, they have a similar issue because they have a former, they they colonized Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and, you know, these portions of North Africa which are primarily Muslim and now they have a lot of Muslim immigrants, quite a few actually. I think it’s almost 10% of the population. Right. That’s what I hear. So if you have all of these Muslim immigrants and you want them to have a sense of French identity, then I think by telling them they can’t wear the headscarves, having them choose between religious devotion and French schooling, what ends up happening is some parents will pull their kids out of school, send them, homeschool or maybe even abroad to go to school in an Islamic school and it ends up actually making the problem worse, I think, because then you have an isolationist mentality.

We’ve been marginalized. We’ve been The the thing the thing they’re fighting against actually comes to pass because of the fight. Yeah. I think so. Right.

I think so. I think that’s part of it. I’m not saying that’s everything. I’m not saying this has everything to do with the, the headscarf but it is it’s not a coincidence. In 2004, 2 French journalists were kidnapped in Iraq, by terrorists that demanded that friends that France end the ban on headscarves.

Interesting. In Iraq? In Iraq. So this was seen as a kind of global attack on Islam and that’s what often ends up happening with the fundamentalist. Something can happen and they’ll see it as an attack not on just those Muslims but the entire Muslim community, and then it will become an issue abroad.

Right. And so they responded. Right. And so even Ayman Zawahiri, who’s the current leader of Al Qaeda, he mentions the banning of the hijab in France as being consistent with, you know, he mentions Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo. Wow.

Israel. All these injustices. Right? Exactly. So he sees this as just one more thing.

So you can see this is this problem has been boiling for a long time and, the French, I think, are probably they’re probably sick of it. I mean, they don’t know what to do. We have, you know, a secular government there. I said we. It’s not my government, but they have a secular government.

There’s a commitment to this national unity, a commitment to secularism, and then you have these these immigrants that are rightfully there. I’m sure there’s some that are illegal, but those that are rightfully there that wanna practice their religion and they’re viewing this idea of separation as church and state is that it’s supposed to protect citizens from a force of religion. So, they should be free to practice their own religion, choose their own religion, and not be barred from public education because they have something that is of religious devotion. Yeah. It’s interesting here to notice the the differences in viewpoint.

From the French, it’s like, no. We’re just trying to make everybody unified under, you know, the the French flag, you know, the the France. And and then they’re just like, no. But you’re barring the the way we we live out our faith, and we’re teaching our children to live our faith. That’s interesting.

Yeah. And I think if if, you know, the people that are that were banning the headscarf, they would just hope that there would be no religion at all. So in some sense, the Muslims as immigrants are a threat to fringe identity because fringe identity, the way I see it, is is a secular society. Right. So, you know, that being said, you can see how, there there’s already sort of a context for frustration with some Muslims there.

Right. And these guys that are doing this and and this is horrible. I mean, how many people died? 17, I think is the latest? Yes.

  1. Not including the shooters. You know, and the the whole concept around the drawings of cartoons, you know, you have such a commitment within a secular society and you have a commitment with freedom of speech that somebody should be able to draw whatever they want and, And And, you know, that’s what preempts this or at least that’s what’s said. And they’re saying that they’re doing this on behalf of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula Yeah. Which is based in Yemen.

Which is where one of them got their training. Right. And so they’re they’re and you have right there actually is where Anwar Al Aulaqi, the American that was killed by the drone, he was the leader of the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Arabian Peninsula. And then you have another guy saying that he’s doing it in the name of, the Islamic State. He’s a part of ISIS.

And so it’s just another one of those things where you you see all of this happening in the news and you’re trying to make sense of it all. And I think all I could read from from looking at it all is there’s a lot there. There’s a history there with colonialism. There’s, one one news reporter actually called it the the Paris massacre Mhmm. Which is ironic because there is something else called the Paris massacre which was the massacre.

Nobody knows the numbers but it’s suspected up to 202150 was the highest number that I saw of Algerians that were killed in Paris in 1961. From what? What happened? There was a peaceful demonstration, wanting Algerian, autonomy. They wanted their own country.

They wanted the colonial reign to end. They wanted the French out and they were protesting in France and, police opened fire and killed 200 people. They called it the Paris massacre. So this is the largest, I think, attack on French soil since that attack. So there’s a lot connected there.

Yeah. It it it is really interesting that whenever you look at, how a pot can start to boil, if if you are right where this begins with this isolation, you know, mentality where you’re just gonna start to either, bring people into your national identity. If they look like you and act like you, they’re okay. Or you isolate them if they’re not okay. And then there’s this, you know, this backlash that happens, but it takes time and builds.

And and then all of a sudden, you start to see all these connections, especially when you’re thinking about what, Nabil Jabbour said last week about the Muslim mind with wanting justice. Mhmm. You know? And then when they see this enough to where the Muslim community is outraged, you know, enough to you know, for these Iraqi terrorists, I guess, to hide to to kidnap Yeah. Those 4 demanding them to stop the the ban on the headscarves.

It’s really interesting. And and I think to western minds, I can’t I can’t help but think, but it must be just like, hey, but it’s just a it’s just a headscarf. Like, you know, somebody told me I had to take off my cross, my, like, my cross necklace, like, would that be that big of a deal? Would I would I fight over it? Would other Christians in other regions, you know, take up arms?

And, like, it probably wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but we don’t think the way they’re thinking. No. And there’s a history. Like I said, you have to take it in context with Algeria, with colonialism, with, French secularization. And, I mean, France has a huge problem on their hands now because they they want their society to go a certain direction and they have, I guess you could call it an immigration problem because the immigrants aren’t, you know, legally there and they don’t want it to go in that direction and this is this is something that’s happening in all of Europe.

Right. It just Francis is the is the headliner because of this. Right. But, I mean, Switzerland, banned the building of of mosque. Yeah.

You told me that. That shocked me. Yeah. So this is this is this is a problem in a lot of Muslim countries because you have so many Muslim immigrants coming into Europe and living in Europe and then the big question is how do we assimilate them into society so that they feel apart, that they feel like they can succeed If there’s an isolationist, you know, agenda or a, you know, let’s marginalize the the immigrants, It’s gonna be a cauldron for, more more radicals. Right.

I don’t know what the solution is, and I’m not saying that that that they’re doing it all wrong. I’m just saying that this is the Muslim perspective. So the show wouldn’t be possible without sponsors. And this week’s sponsors are Zwammer Center. Zwammer Center.

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Very nice. The Zweimer Center equips the church to reach Muslims. The Swimmer Center has been educating people about reaching Muslims before it was cool. You know, something that I also found really interesting is that, you remember we talked a couple of podcasts ago about the I’ll hashtag I’ll ride with you in Australia and the response that was totally not Islamophobic. And, and and yet here in France, and I know obviously the circumstances are much different, but there was these attacks on, things Muslim.

Like, for instance, there was 2 dummy grenades thrown into a mosque. I thought that was really interesting. I wonder if there was a connection with, maybe, like, this nonviolent terrorist kinda act. Another one was a prayer room. Somebody came in and shot twice.

Didn’t hit anybody. Mhmm. Like, he shot up in the ceiling up into the ceiling. And then with a dummy grenade. And then somebody spray painted, you know, Arabs go home or something like that or no Arabs, no more Arabs or I can’t remember exactly what the wording was.

But it was nonviolent in the sense that, you know, they weren’t, setting fire shooting or what. But, you know, in Germany, of course, there was that fire, in that other newspaper that had reprinted some of, Charlie Hebdo’s, the comics Uh-huh. Dunes. But anyway, so it was interesting to see kind of the different the different national responses and how much tension there probably is already. I don’t know what the political situation or the Islamic situation with, Australia is, but I wonder if that has to do with, how much boiling has been happening, you know, per se.

You know, the boiling of of people’s discontent on both sides. Right. No. I think that’s why we, you know, the show is called Truth About Muslims, meaning we wanna just say what we see, you know, the media what the media is saying, the parts that are true, and then also what media is not saying that’s also true and I think it’s important to recognize, I haven’t seen a lot of media reports about this, but during the march, you know, there was 3,000,000 people that marched including a lot of Muslims that were marching, you know, saying that they don’t want this either. They wanna live in a society at peace, but they also wanna retain some religious identity and they don’t see the 2 as incompatible.

So this idea is Islam and democracy, are they compatible? This has been a debate that’s been going on for a while. Right. It’s not gonna get settled anytime soon. I wanna say 2 2 other things.

1, the, there was a a police officer that was killed that was assigned to Charlie Hebdo to protect the, the employees. He was killed in the process and, you know, it’s kinda interesting because people are making comments and I even saw one of the, someone that wrote in was asking, well, where are the moderates? Why don’t they ever stand up? Why don’t they ever say anything against the radicals? But this guy was Muslim and so he was there.

He was defending, a newspaper that really was ridiculing his faith, you know, by, you know, the cartoons with Mohammed. But he was still there to protect free speech as a Muslim and he died and he lost his life. The other one was a a Muslim and I saw this in an Israeli newspaper which I was really pleased about. The the there was a kosher grocery store, of course, where people were murdered as well. Right.

But one of the heroes of that was a Muslim, guy that was working at the store who took people down into the freezer, got them into the freezer, shut the freezer, and then eventually, I believe the story said he he kinda told them, wait here. I’m going out to see if it’s safe. And, I mean, he’s a hero. Yeah. And he’s a Muslim guy.

And he worked at a at a kosher grocery grocery store. So I think that’s the the bottom line is that we do have to figure out, in my opinion, especially after talking with Nabil Jabbar, I can see how one area that we have to work on is empowering those that are Muslim that also see themselves as being at peace with society. Right. Telling their story too. Yeah.

And over and over, we just find that it is really a lot more complicated than it seems. Yeah. And and I was just kinda cracking up before the show started. You said that your next door neighbor, he’s what, 17, 16, 7 year old? Yeah.

He’s, 6, 17 years old. And then you asked him, like, so what did he say? Oh, man. I said, hey, did you hear about what what happened in France? Is anybody giving you a hard time at school?

He’s a Muslim kid. Yeah. I’m I’m kinda just looking out for him, you know, because I was kinda concerned for him, backlash even at his own school. And he said, no, not really. And I said, oh, okay.

I’m surprised. I guess, I just assumed kids would have asked him and he goes, well, you know, actually now that I think about it, some kids were like, hey, man, why are why are, why did Muslims do this stuff in France? And he said, I just kinda looked at him and he said, I don’t know who these people are. Why are you asking me? It’s classic 17 year old example.

Right. I speak for these people. Yeah. Right? Like, what what are you doing, man?

Why are you asking me? I did. Yeah. Anyway, to leave you with this, the French prime minister in his speech when he was talking about this, it was interesting to hear his perspective. He says that we’re at war but not at a war against religion, not against a civilization, but war to defend our values which are universal.

And then he said, it’s a war against terrorism and radical Islam against everything aimed at breaking solidarity, liberty, and fraternity fraternity. Then he says, our compatriots, and citizens who are Muslim by confession and culture are also the victims of terrorism. This is perhaps the most important message, the refusal of this confusion. Jihadism tries to create that confusion. So it it was really kind of interesting how he kinda brings it around saying, you know what?

Remember that it’s not, you know, our our Muslim citizens per se. You know, trying to bring back that unity, but then making Jihadism the enemy, Which is obviously smart on his part, but, do they buy it? I guess is the question because it really it really comes down to how do they live every day? How do people treat them really every day? How how are the laws formed that, allow for their, you know, their civilization or their their living, their communities?

Yeah. I think this is a bigger problem for Europe than it is for the United States. I think, you know, we see it in Germany with the chancellor talking about the failure of multiculturalism. We’ve seen it in the UK with the prime minister talking about multiculturalism. And the kind of the word of the day in Europe right now is our attempts at multiculturalism are failing.

And so, I don’t know what that means for the Muslim community in Europe. I don’t know what that means for the European non Muslim community in Europe other than it’s going to be a long bumpy road moving forward. Right. But the neat thing is that we do get the chance to learn from each other because we can see it. We can see what people are trying and what people are doing.

Maybe that’ll make it faster. Yeah. And let’s hope that the that the church sees an opportunity here to respond in love and provide an alternative solution than either secularism or radical Islam. Maybe there’s another way. Maybe maybe the church, could see this as an opportunity to really display the love of Christ to both, the French and the Muslims and everyone.

Right. So that’s it for the mini cast. Yeah. Yeah. That’s a mini cast.

Pray pray for France. Pray for French leadership. Pray for the Muslims. Pray for the non Muslims. Just pray for France.

I mean, they’re suffering right now in France. Right. And we wanna hear what you guys think about it. Again, comments at, and, please write reviews and listen and tell your friends and, all that good stuff. It really helps a lot.

Thank you for listening.