Europe

الانجليز و “الانتهازية” عبر التاريخ

مثّل قرار بريطانيا الخروج من الاتحاد الأوروبي صدمة كبيرة للجميع حول العالم و خاصة للجيران الأوروبيين والذي البعض منهم كان يتوقع هذا الطلاق بالتراضي مع الجار المتقلب المزاجي و المتنقل في القارة العجوز: ساق في أوروبا و الساق الأخرى في عالم ما وراء البحار و المحيطات عندما كانت سفن فرانسيس درايك و ولتر رالي و كابتن كوك و ديفيد لفنغستون تشق عباب الأطلسي للعالم الجديد و تسبر أغوار افريقيا و أمريكا الشمالية و أستراليا.

كان وقع الانسحاب كبيرا على قوتين اقتصاديتين في الاتحاد: ألمانيا و فرنسا حيث بدأ التخوف من اتساع رقعة البركسيت لباقي الدول الاوروبية و المخاوف الكبرى من النزعات الانفصالية لدى سكوتلندا و كاتالونيا في شمال اسبانيا و سعي الايرلنديين الشماليين للاتحاد مع أخوتهم في الجنوب.
و ليس غريبا أن يجد التوجه الانفصالي من أوروبا ترحيبا كبيرا من الكثير من البريطانيين خاصة من الانجليز في الشمال ممن يعتبروا أنفسهم ضحايا بيروقراطية بروكسال خصوصا من مناطق ذات أهمية تارخية كالبلاد السوداء و يوركشاير كلاهما مثّلا العمود الفقري للثورة الصناعية التي أدخلت بريطانيا من أوسع أبوابه إلى التاريخ الحديث كأكبر امبراطورية بعد الرومانية و الاغريقية و البيزنطية و الاسلامية، تلك الامبراطورية التي لم تغب عنها الشمس إلا عندما بدأ نجمها يأفل باستقلال أكبر مستعمراتها في العالم الجديد الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية في 1776 و شيئا فشيئا باقي المستعمرات في افريقيا و آسيا مع حفاظ البعض منها على نوع من التبعية السياسية و الاقتصادية مع الوطن الأم كأستراليا و نيوزيلاندا و كندا.
باختيار هذه القوى الاقتصادية و السياسية الوفاء للتاج البريطاني استطاعت انجلترا، و التي بثقلها السكاني استطاعت أن تخضع المناطق ذات النزعة الانفصالية في الجزر البريطانية ،باستئناء الجمهورية الايرلندية، كسكوتلندا و ويلز و ايرلندا الشمالية (و التي يصطلح على تسميتها بألستر لدى الموالين للملكية) لسيطرتها ، و أن تواصل تأثيرها الثقافي و الاقتصادي و السياسي على ما تبقى من امبراطوريتها العظمى مع منحها صلاحيات أقوى لها كدول مستقلة لكن في حالة تبعية للعرش البريطاني و لو شكليا في ما يسمى بدول الكومنولث أو اتحاد 53 دولة من ولايات الامبراطورية البريطانية سابقا.
فحتى خروج انجلترا من الاتحاد الأوروبي لن يؤثر في باقي المملكة حسب بعض المحللين لأنها لا تزال تتمتع بولاء دول الكومنولث الكبرى لها بالأخص استراليا و كندا و نيوزيلندا فلم الخوف إذن؟ ربما ويلز ستكون الخاسر الأكبر بسبب البركسيت لأنها انتفعت الأكثر من التمويل الأوروبي السخي منذ 1973 سنة التحاق المملكة المتحدة بالسوق الاوروبية المشتركة و لاحقا بالاتحاد الأوروبي.
لقد كان رفض انجلترا الالتحاق بالعملة الموحدة اليورو و فضاء الشنغن اختيارا استراتيجيا ذكيا حتى لا تضطر أن تلتزم بالقيود الاوروبية المفروضة ليس فقط على البلدان الأقل رخاء في الاتحاد كاليونان و اسبانيا لكن أيضا على الكبرى كألمانيا و فرنسا و لكي تواصل تمتعها باستقلالية تجعلها على ارتباط حميمي بأكبر فوة اقتصادية و سياسية و عسكرية في العالم: الولايات المتحدة الامريكية. و قد لا يخفى على الجميع الدور .الاستراتيجي لبريطانيا في تنامي دورالحلف الأطلسي في أوروبا الغربية و بعد سقوط الاتحاد السوفياتي في اوروبا و حتى تركيا
لطالما اتهمت فرنسا غريمتها و منافستها الشرسة تاريخيا في العالم بالانتهازية و استغلال الاتحاد الاوروبي كبقرة حلوب تدر عليها منافع تقوي اقتصادها دون بذل مجهودات كبيرة في تقوية الاتحاد الاوروبي. فهل يمكن تحميل انجلترا سبب الوهن في الاتحاد الاوروبي لوحدها؟
لكن السؤال الأهم يبقى ما تأثير هذه الانتهازية  تاريخيا على علاقات انجلترا بالقارة العجوز؟ ربما يبقى واحد من أهم الأحداث في تاريخ انجلترا هو إعلان التاج الانكليزي بأنه أعلى سلطة على الأرض لكنسية انكلترا و نبذ سلطة البابا في روما على يد الملك هنري الثامن الذي عين نفسه رئسيا لكنيسة انجلترا الجديدة في عام 1534. مثل هذا الانفصال بداية لعهد جديد في تاريخ المسيحية في أوروبا ، و لعل الطرفة التاريخية حول هذا الانفصال المتمثلة في رغبة هنري الثامن الشديدة في الطلاق من زوجته الأولى كاثرين الأراغونية بسبب عجزها عن انجاب وريث ذكر له مثّل ثورة كبيرة في عهده إذ استغل هنري خلافه مع بابا روما الذي رفض طلاقه من كاثرين و حال دون زواجه من آن بولين  لينتهز الفرصة لإعلان استقلال انجلترا من هيمنة الكنسية الكاثوليكية.

لقد كانا ثاتشر و تشرشل شخصيتان براغماتيتان انجليزيتان دافعتا عن خصوصية انجلترا ككيان مميزعن أوروبا القارة  فاخترع فطور الصباح الانكليزي و الشاي الانكليزي للتأكيد على هذه الخصوصية الثقافية المتجذرة في التاريخ.، وبما أن بريطانيا جزيرة فالعقلية الانعزالية رسمت أهم  معالمها ككيان سياسي و اقتصادي و ثقافي متميز و مستقل

Black Country: البلاد السوداء

أوروبا القارة: Continental Europe

tug of war

Source: The Economist

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Femme voilée: la nouvelle négresse selon Laurence Rossignol

L’approche paternaliste-colonialiste et son obsession parfois “malsaine” par le corps de la femme non-occidentale. Haro à cette occidentalisation forcée des moeurs et coutumes des “non-blancs”. Il est temps que la femme non-occidentale parle pour elle-même , affiche sa beauté à elle sans contrainte de la mode; dont certains paranoïaques de l’islamisation du monde “civilisé” crient au loup chaque fois une femme en Afghanistan, Soudan ou Pakistan se fait fouetter ou lapider pour avoir “oser occidentaliser son corps”.
Haro à une dictature féministe en Occident et ailleurs qui se désolidarise des femmes libres, épanouies, belles avec leurs voiles (qui ne l’est pas pour certain(e)s et ça se comprend parfaitement), actives, féministes et courageuses à faire face à une diabolisation d’un choix libre, libérateur et réfléchi.
Oser afficher un corps de femme indigène insoumise en dehors des stéréotypes du harem du Sultan est un combat qui doit se faire par toutes les féministes du monde sans concession à la dictature machiste mondialiste (dont la mode en est coupable aussi) qui veut faire muer la voix de la femme non-occidentale (et par extension non-occidentalisée). Et même si elle fait partie d’une minorité silencieuse dans le monde qui dérange une majorité longtemps au monopole de la parole, discours unique et sans équivoque

Aida Touihri et Hapsatou Sy s’indigent de la campagne anti-voile par l’Establishment française

Les propos de Laurence Rossignol, le ministre de la femme française contre le voile sur RMC

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Reflections on Being a Muslim in Europe: The Big Divide

Having read, examined, explored and enjoyed many Muslim and non-Muslim scholars’ writings on Islam and its future in the West (Tariq Ramadan, Vincent Geisser, Laurent Lévy), I felt compelled to post a series of replies to Gabriele Marranci’s posts, as well as his academic research papers and contributions in scholarly publications.

I wish to take part in the ongoing debate of the place of Islam in the West, particularly in Europe and on being a Muslim in Europe, a European Muslim, with all the challenges that accompany the journey of the Muslim citizen, immigrant in the Old Continent.  I have lived intermittently between the UK and Tunisia since 1999 (studying and working), during which I have come into close contact with European Muslims in the UK with their different lifestyles, religious leanings, traditions, colours and cultures, I have fulfilled a long-time dream of immersing myself in a real multicultural context: that of the UK and its different cultural components: English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh.

I wish to comment on Gabriele Marranci’s blog “The Atomic Burqa“, as well as subsequent articles on Tabsir’s website (NDLR: “Roland of Scotland” , “Italian Muslims or Basta Alla Matriciana”, “Bat-Fallaci, Bat-Bin Laden and Robin-Zarqawi” and “Straw Women Unveiled (Victorian Style)” , which I found thought-provoking and quite funny. As a Muslim feminist, I feel that the debate on the headscarf has been hyperbolically and extensively pushed into extremes so as to discredit the silent majority among the Muslim Ummah in the West.

At the height of the War on Terror gripping Western nations since the sinister 11th of September, Muslims found themselves under constant surveillance, in an Orwellian world of intense scrutiny from the forces of law and order in democratic nations and so European Muslims found themselves compelled to take an oath of allegiance to further prove their Europeanness (British Citizenship Test introduced by Charles Clark is another reminder of the Cricket Test by Lord Tebbitt, a couple of decades ago).

I was appointed as French language assistant in Glasgow by the British Council Tunisia for the school year 2005-2206, I was told: “you are going to be the cultural ambassador of your country in Scotland”. But who has ever heard of Tunisia in the east end area of Easterhouse, blighted by sectarianism, as is the case in other West of Scotland towns, a no-go zone for a trebly handicapped person: Black, Muslim, and female? French colleagues felt sorry for me: what on earth should a headscarved woman do in an area torn between a war of religious, cultural and sports symbols.

I was a teaching assistant in a high school and a French teacher in a primary school. Being a foreigner in Glasgow, I was unaware of the realities of the conflict, exported from Ireland to the West of Scotland: between the Catholics and the Protestants. I kept telling everyone, sometimes crying: I HAVE NEVER ASKED TO COME TO SCOTLAND TO BEAR THE BRUNT OF THIS WAR OF DOGMAS. I realised how awful young people as young as 11 can be indoctrinated in “a democracy” like the UK and told to choose between who your friend is and who your enemy is.

Certainly I was a threat to many because I was the foreigner for some, the exotic African young woman for others, the threatening Muslim terrorist for others, the personification of the Scottish Pakistani thug who killed the poor 15-year old Scottish boy in Pollokshields, south Glasgow in 2005 and recently the refugee, would-be asylum seeker living in Sighthill. To top it all, I chose to live in the east end of Glasgow (Dennistoun), another hotspot for tensions between loyalists and republicans (Sundays have become synonymous of Orange Marches in my 11-month stay in Glasgow).

Pupils asking me which football team I supported, I naively replied: “Glasgow Rangers because Hamed Nammouchi who is Tunisian plays there”. The reaction was rather hostile. I realised later that it was the wrong answer: I should have chosen Celtics. The pupil who begged me to choose Celtic was of course an Irish Catholic. I was constantly faced with tests of allegiances (See Marranci’s Pakistanis in Northern Ireland (2005): “The Catholic Muslim” syndrome).

In February 2006, I visited a Tunisian friend, who just like me, was a “cultural ambassador of Tunisia in Northern Ireland”, in Belfast, Lisburn Road (little by little becoming a middle class Catholic area). I felt the tense atmosphere in the city, beautiful though, nice people, and most importantly divided: Protestants and Catholics. The most extreme of both communities, the Loyalists in the Shankill Road area and the Nationalists in the Falls Road area (we went on an exploration trip to see the famous murals: I was OVERWHELMED BY EMOTION). My friend lived with a Catholic couple, who, just like most Irish Catholics I have met, whether in Scotland, England and even in Tunisia (working or as tourists), often confronted me with the same choice making: are you with US (poor, oppressed Irish or with THEM (the oppressors, the English)?

What have I learnt from all this? Many lessons need to be drawn from all that. That in such a tense environment, I learnt how to survive, to be optimistic for the future of Muslims there in spite of all the hardships I encountered (I was harassed, assaulted by some of the pupils in the school I was working in), but that never undermined my spirits. It made me appreciate the Scots, the English and the Irish better, without having to shift allegiances to please any side. Scottish Muslims are clever enough not to let themselves carried away and trapped in those bickerings. I admired their strong sense of Scottishness in Glasgow and Irishness in Belfast and taught me to appreciate both communities with their strengths and weaknesses.

My experience as a Muslim in Scotland is not that different from my experience as a Muslim tourist in Italy in January and April 2006, this time, with members of my family, Italian citizens with Italian children, but not as Muslim Europeans. Completely assimilated in Italian culture, in total opposition to British multiculturalism. My relatives had to sacrifice their Muslim traditions, though not their identity, for their mixed parentage children to become Italian citizens, sometimes in vain.

Houda Mzioudet.

University of Tunis.

December 4th 2006.

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The Western Dialogue With Islam

I want this article to be a “timid” attempt to dispel the myths surrounding the Islamic faith in the West with its mysteries, the misunderstanding and the unwillingness to “rediscover” it.  The West had to wait for the terrorist attack on New York on the 11th of September 2001 to finally explore Islam and its secrets.  It was like a “godsend” for many traumatised by the attack who until that day have led such a sheltered, naïve life, cut off from the world’s serious concerns.

As an MA student, majoring in British social history in the University of Manouba, I can never pretend to be a social reformer, even worse a “moralist” (I have in mind a friend of mine, a British convert to Islam who has always complained about Arabs’ arrogance towards him in terms of religious teaching: Sharia’a [Islamic law], Hadeeths [the Prophet’s sayings] etc.).  As an observer with a critical outlook on things in life, I would humbly like to take part in the “intellectual debate on the so-called “dialogue between religions”/civilisations.  Huntington’s most acclaimed book  “The Clash of Civilisations” became widely read, criticised, admired, loved, hated, attacked, laughed at, censored throughout the world.  Muslims saw (and still do) it as an “instigator to Islamophobia, a 20th century Inquisition of their religion and way of life.  Again, we have the syndrome of the Persecuted People, the West’ scapegoats (since Dante’s satirical depiction of Satan and so called “vehement attack” on Islam in “the Divine Comedy” in the Middle Ages).

Then came the MOST CONTROVERSIAL book in modern Muslim history, Salman Rushdie’s “The Satanic Verses”, which had (and still does) the same effect as Hiroshima’s disaster on the Muslim Ummah’s (Nation in Arabic; nothing to do with the Nation of Islam, which is an Afro-American dissident religious group) dignity and faith.  When I was in secondary school, Rushdie’s book was A TABOO. I was told that this apostate’s book is the Most Insulting Book of all times for Muslims, which smeared Prophet Muhammad’ and His wives’ image. I thought it was a political pamphlet, to be censored by Iran’s highest religious authorities.  I later learned that the boycott was made unanimously in the Muslim world of anything pertaining to Salman Rushdie and that it was Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran who called for a fatwa” (a religious decree) to sentence Rushdie for death.  Having been brought up in an unorthodox environment, different from the mainstream, my sense of criticism was sharpened by the different readings I have made, allowing me to have a sense of judgement capable of discriminating between different opinions.  I enjoyed Averroese’s liberal mind and highly philosophical thinking; he was certainly one of his time’s victims: his fanatic society and later Christian Inquisition.

Muslims were honoured to see that finally the West has recognised him and hailed Averroes, the Cordovan as one of the greatest thinkers of all time (in 1998, Cordoba has celebrated the 800th Anniversary of his death).  I have no intention when saying all that to be the devil’s advocate for Rushdie or an apologist of his book because I am in no position to pass any judgement on his book and I ironically haven’t read it.  Rushdie is hailed in the West as a great novelist.  “The Satanic Verses” is not the only book he has written.  He has many others; one well known is “Midnight’s Children”, in which we have another Rushdie, writing in a poetic style.  His recent book, ironically written before the 11th of September 2001, is entitled “New York, New York”, in which he satirises the megalopolis in strong words and which surely makes of him an unpatriotic citizen in the eyes of several Americans (Rushdie is an American citizen today).  In a recent interview on French TV, he seemed enthusiastic about his popularity in the world and related to his “host” an anecdote that happened to him when he was having a dinner in a New York restaurant.  The owner approached him and asked for an autograph for his book.  The man was an Egyptian, who has read, “The Satanic Verses»; but still felt embarrassed to speak openly about the book, but nevertheless thanked him for the book describing it as a “masterpiece”, worth to be read by Muslims.  Rushdie was very touched after the fatwa was cancelled with the new Iranian regime.

One other concern for the Muslim world is the state of affairs in their countries.  Globalisation has affected people’s lives, not only in the Muslim world but worldwide, too.  It has brought its own inventions as well as problems.  “The Macdonaldisation” of people’s eating habits brought a huge transformation in their daily lives.  Strong reactions came from Gulf countries where big corporations such Mc Donald and KFC made their appearances in the last decade, exacerbating Muslims’ hostility towards “American Imperialism”. For many, they have become the new “mosques”, because of their popularity among Arab youth.  Swiss philosopher of Egyptian origin, Tariq Ramadan, and based in Freiberg, Switzerland, warns about the “MacGyverisation” of some Muslim societies, which has swept the Arab world during the 1990s, bringing along other American manufactured products from US TV networks: “Baywatch” and the like.  Muslim youth are being inundated with Hollywood products, at anyone’s easy reach: TV, cinema, magazines etc. Ramadan was complaining on French TV about the “mediocre show” on French TV: TV reality, (“Loft Story”, the French version of “Big Brother”), which made French youth more prone to voyeurism, a desire to show off, to defy the parents’ authority.  North African parents were dismayed to see their offspring taking part in the “show”.

Muslim families have become tired with problems affecting their “kids” in French “banlieues” and more and more exasperated with their behaviour in a secular society that asks them to “integrate” in French culture in order to become “good French citizens”.  This shows us the failure of such a programme and Muslim youth’s alienation from the system is alarming.  French political analysts warn about the feeling of social injustice felt by these youth towards French authorities. The media tried to justify «Islamic terrorism» in the world by recuperating the slogan «moral panics» among young people, taken advantage of in several European countries.  This was mainly caused by the fear of acts of retaliation on Western European countries from Islamic fundamentalists.  That didn’t solve the problem because it overshadowed other concerns: the rise of extreme right movements in countries, whose political traditions have never been linked to Neo-Fascism.  Think about the Netherlands’ extreme right leader “Pim Fortyuin” or about Italy’s “North League” and its charismatic leader Fini.  As for some European countries’ “passivity” and “lack of cooperation” in the dismantling of terrorist networks, this is an issue that concerns those countries’ policies.  There needs to be a real dialogue, not only between religions, but also between world leaders and politicians about the future of the world dialogue of cultures. The gap between the North and the south NEEDS urgently to be bridged.

Houda Mzioudet

(University of Manouba). Tunis.

September 2002.

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