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French v. English responses

Reader comment on item: Weak Brits, Tough French

Submitted by Mike Shapiro (United States), Jul 14, 2005 at 19:54

While I do appreciate your view of English v. French responses to Islamic terrorism, and don't really disagree with them (well, actually, as an historian by education, I think that you actually soft-pedal the aggressiveness and violence that has characterized Islam since its founding and certainly the fundamentalist brand, which has been an integral part of its philosophy since the 10th Century BCE), I think that you are being over simplistic in saying that the school system's dress code shows a lack of backbone on the part of the British.

The British have always assumed that religion was an important part of educational development. Their answer seems to be to allow free expression of religion in schools. On the other hand, the French, probably as a result of the excesses of "le Ancienne Regime", insist on avoiding any indication of state support for any or all religion.

Personally, I'm much more comfortable with the French position than with the British, but it is a very complicated situation. Oversimplification leads to false conclusions.

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