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Reader comment on item: Weak Brits, Tough French

Submitted by Matthieu Nogues (France), Jun 26, 2006 at 06:44

I think, overall, that indeed France and Britain have two completly different optics on the integration issue. Recently, in a social welfare agency in Britain, a pig doll representing the piggy character from Winnie the Poo (Don't remember his name) was removed because it is offending to the muslims, something no one would accept here at first. But let's go point by point.

1. First, both problems in France and Britain are an integration problem. In both countries, no matter how much we like arguing about the neighbour, we have a lot of poverty which strikes the lower classes. But France has a very strong secular tradition, the state has less troubles in getting inside religious issues like expulsing hate preachers, something Britain is now also doing but later. How many terrorists, worldwide, went through London? In France then, it's the same than in the USA, they make gangs and little crime while in Britain they go as terrorists.

2. Britain has an established church, the Anglican church, which is favouring one church "de jure" (maybe not in practice, but in theory it does). Which can, maybe, cause ressentiment within other religious minorities. In France, the church and the state are completly disctinct, all churches are treated the same. The veil ban for example was actually a ban on all religious symbol but it's true the veil was the most obvious one. This was more a confirmation of an old law passed under Jules Ferry (early 20th century) than a new one because we always put religious symbols out of school for a long time in France. In Britain, there are uniforms though, that should prevent people from wearing religious symbols but it wasn't an issue against people wearing veils.

3. Civil liberties, it's true France has tougher laws against terrorism, but to claim like some would than France gave up on its civil rights and Britain didn't isn't correct. There are currently more cameras in London than in the entire France, in UK there are cams everywhere, while in France they are limited to public transportations, banks, cash dispensers and sensitive places. Both countries adopted biometric ID cards and passports. It is now illegal in Britain to protest next to the Westminster Palace (the parliament) without authorisation of the commons, something that would be unacceptable in the USA or France.

4. Britain had a policy of appeasal of terrorism for long, now it seems to be over (hopefully), one example is Rachid Ramda, he was a terrorist involved in the 1995 bombing campaign in France who was kept in UK for years. The British justice refused to send him back to France under the pretext he would receive inhuman treatment from the French police while a Brazilian, as a reminder, was shot down by the British police because he was mistaken for a terrorist. In the end, Ramda is send back to France for his judgment.

Last but not least, to see how the GIGN managed terrorists people should read of the Air France flight 8969.


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