As French soldiers are in the midst of a fairly large military intervention in Mali against the AQMI terrorists (an Islamic movement linked to Al-Qaida), a controversial poll has been published recently in French newspapers.
One can certainly question the timing of this publication and perhaps speculate that it may not be strictly the fruit of pure coincidence.
Would France wish to reassure its population of the righteousness of its intervention against Islamic militants in publishing such a document? The timing is certainly suspect and the results absolutely staggering.
In this recent poll, 74% of French people surveyed found Islam to be “intolerant and incompatible with the values of French society.” 80% of the people interviewed expressed the view that Islam is trying to impose its “mode of operation” on others (I.e. presumably, its customs, laws and traditions).
The numbers are astounding, particularly considering that 7.5% of the French population is officially of Muslim faith, increasing potentially by another 7.5% the results when restricted solely to French “non-Muslim” individuals.
Conversely, other religions have retained a rather positive image within the public opinion of a country that is becoming more and more secular. Most people polled found other religions to be mainly tolerant (72% expressed this view of the Catholic religion and 66% of Judaism).
In some countries, such a poll would be unthinkable. It would certainly be considered to contravene seriously the consensual political correctness of the day, in fear of ethnic or religious discrimination. It is indeed often required for statistics to avoid any mention of race, skin color, gender, sexual orientation, or religion, particularly when addressing issues related to minority groups.
I would doubt that such a survey could be conducted and published in the Canadian press, considered otherwise to be amongst the most independent in the journalistic world.
The survey is nevertheless of great interest. It indeed sheds some sociological light on the difficulties of pluri-culturalism and the integration of religious minorities into mostly secular French society.
To most observers, the extent of the anti-Islamic sentiment in France comes as a shock. Even left-leaning individuals surveyed – despite an inherent sympathy of the left towards Islamic revolutions, the Palestinian cause and Islam in general – had a negative opinion of Islam in terms of its perceived intolerance.
Abdennour Bidar, Mulsim philosopher, writer and professor, commented on the results of the poll. Below is a translation of some of the thoughts expressed by Mr. Bidar in his interview with the newspaper “Le Monde”:
“Muslims must hear this warning. Islam has a problem with itself,” said Prof. Bidar. “It is urgent for Muslims to have a critical assessment of their religion. They must ask themselves: ‘All things considered, why is it that people are so reactive to who we are?’”
“The main problems Islam has with itself are related to the ‘indiscutabilité’ of its (religious) texts and the status of women. This incapacity to challenge itself is dangerous and costly for Islam. Islamic authorities should encourage a critical evaluation of the Islamic reason (i.e. its rationale, motives, basis, laws, etc.).”
“I am certain that if women were willing to perform a true critical assessment (of their “personal choice” to wear the veil), they would realize that it generates problems with their own tradition, with the view others have (of them) and with the ability to make contact (with others).”
“It is often said that there should be no amalgam (confusion) between ‘Integrist (fundamentalist) Islam’, which remains a minority, and ‘Moderate Islam’. However, today, many ask themselves where is the ‘Moderate Islam?’ when they are faced with claims they feel to be uncompromising.”
“There is no inevitability of the worst (outcome)…. We see in Muslims aspirations typical of modernity. They are civically responsible, caring for themselves, have brotherly aspirations beyond differences, we see ecumenism, the desire of living together. But this remains (however) a rarely assumed modernity.”
Above are just a few extracts. Read the entire results of the French poll and interview with Abdennour Bidar in this article from “Le Monde”.
Also particularly interesting is this article by Samir Khalil Samir (in English) on Islam’s illnesses, including another excellent interview with Professor Abdennour Bidar addressing the issue of Islamic intolerance.