street-prayer

An FT article on Islam in France argues that a demographic "Eurabia" outcome is unlikely. I agree. However, the article is very optimistic about the piety of the average French Muslim, as well as the societal impact of multi-faith "mélange" (mix). On the first point, it seems to think that the 15 to 20 percent of non-practicing Muslims is a reassuring sign of French secularisation. Hold on... that means 80 to 85 percent are practicing.

On a street corner opposite a café, you find an abandoned pair of slippers and steps leading down to one of the cellar “prayer rooms” where most religious Muslims in France pray. The law of 1905 – cementing the separation of church and state – forbids the Republic to pay for religious buildings. In fact, there doesn’t seem to be much demand.

I'm not so sure. Maybe the author hasn't been to the Goutte d’Or in the 18th arrondissement on a Friday lunchtime, where entire streets are blocked by thousands of worshippers because the two local mosques can't meet the demand. And support for a replacement mega-mosque is forthcoming from some politicians of the Republic.

As for the impact of "mélange", Caroline Fourest wrote recently that France is shifting from a posture of "secularism against extremism" to one of "Christianity against Islam". I've long thought that the real effect of a resurgent Islam is not the Islamisation of the West (even if this is partially true) but the waking of a sleeping dog: the dormant Christianity of the majority - particularly in varying forms of Christian nationalism. If it doesn't feel that way yet, the prevailing minoritarian discourse tends - of itself and by the reactions it provokes - to drown the voice of the plebeian under the primacy accorded to voice of the fringe.

Political correctness is a fragile skin over a swelling boil of unarticulated rivalries. But boils leak, then burst. The end result will be a huge step back from secularism - the weakness of which is its reliance on the good will of everyone, including fundamentalists of all stripes.