Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Guéant: Preaching in Arabic OK

Claude Guéant, minister of the interior:

"Il est constitutionnellement impossible d'interdire le prêche en arabe", car "on n'interdit pas les messes en portugais ou l'hébreu dans les synagogues", a expliqué Claude Guéant dans ce qui semble être une réponse à Jean-François Copé. Le secrétaire général de l'UMP a, en effet, souhaité inclure dans le débat la question du prêche en français, soulevant l'indignation des responsables musulmans. Concernant des dérapages de prédicateurs, Claude Guéant a rappelé que la loi prévoyait des "sanctions" mais a ajouté : "En ce moment, rien de tel n'est signalé."
Or Latin, for that matter, he might have added (and I'm not sure that "masses in Hebrew" is what the good Guéant meant to say--the slip is in a certain way revealing). Sheesh, to think that such a law was even thinkable says something about where things stand.

Nick (see comments) points out that the slip was mine, so I guess I should leave it in there as revealing in its own right! Apologies to M. Guéant.


Nick said...

Agreed, Art, in re Sheesh. But just to be nitpicky, he said "les messes en portugais ou l'hebreu dans les synagogues", not "les messes en portugais ou en hebreu dans les synagogues". The latter would have been a weird slip, but the former just means speaking Hebrew in a synangogue, not holding a mass in Hebrew. Total nitpick.

Arthur Goldhammer said...

Whoops, I must have read to quickly. Thanks, Nick.

Anonymous said...

It's your slip that is most revealing, Arthur. Cut down on the bashing.

brent said...

OK, Guéant's response was perfectly reasonable, though I have to agree with Art that the question is completely outrageous. So is it 'bashing' to say so, or just an exercise in critical reasoning? And that critical function will be all the more essential as this ugly political discourse gets even uglier in the 14 (!) months to come ...

Arthur Goldhammer said...

"Bashing" is a matter of give and take. I give, so I have to take. As I mentioned the other day, I don't censor any comments (except for obvious spam), even though there are some that I find totally wrong-headed or offensive (even when not directed at me personally). Blogging, like politics, is not for the thin-skinned.

Cincinna said...

  Gueant is correct, within the context he is forced to operate. 
  Unlike America,  France has no First Amendment guarantee protecting the free exercise of religion. 
  In addition to Art's "Sheesh!", I will add a couple of my own. As to Masses in Synagogues, that strain of thought does relate back to the blood libel against the Jews for using the blood of Christian babies in their "Mass". I doubt if Gueant had this in mind, but it is part of the ugly strain of anti-Semitism running throughout French history and part of the French collective consciousness

When Latin was the official language of the Roman Catholic  church, were there objections to the use of a foreign language?

   Art's "Sheesh" might also reflects my own exasperation with the general ignorance in France, even among the so-called "educated" elites,  of religion in general, and religions
other than Roman Catholicism like Protestantism, Islam &
Judaism, and their Holy Scriptures.
   One of Art's recent Blog Posts,  "Denying Sarko Three Times Before The Cock Crows" can only be understood with knowledge of the New Testament Scripture referring to the story of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane speaking to Peter, his most loyal disciple. 
  In the rush to glorify l'etat laic, in France, and also in the US,  we are  establishing Secular Humanism
as the State religion. In the process we are losing our cultural heritage, in knowing and understanding language, literature, art, architecture, music & cinema, 
 Without this knowledge, we cannot understand art or music, literature or philosophy. Even Cinema. "Inherit The Wind" "East of Eden" " The Seventh Seal" "Lilies of the Field" "On Wings of Eagles"  are but a few of literary thousands of films whose titles are taken from the Bibl

Arthur Goldhammer said...

Well, sheesh again, I'd like nothing better than to establish "Secular Humanism," but we heathens can be literate, you know. Please don't take my occasional biblical references to be a profession of faith. Heaven forbid! I am a child of the Enlightenment.

Cincinna said...

 If you read my comment more carefully, you would have seen that I said that one could not  consider himself educated if he were not familiar with the Bible, even if only as a literary work. I never said anything about believing it, just reading it. I would never presume to look into anyone's soul. 

In the latest  Gallup/USA Today Poll, 92% of all Americans profess belief in God. 
  Are we all un-enlightend? Or has Harvard, founded as a religious institution by Congregationalists,lost touch with the real America?

Arthur Goldhammer said...

I'm a liberal, Cincinna, which means I respect people I've "lost touch with," though I doubt that professing to believe in God commits those 92% to anything more than a bland social convention and therefore doesn't put them in touch with much of anything, and certainly not one another, not in the old sense of religious communion. What beliefs they might or might not share I wouldn't dare to guess. And by the way, you can find surveys showing that large percentages of Americans can't locate Egypt on a map or state the number of senators. What characteristics does one have to share with one's countryman to "be in touch?"

Anonymous said...

Pragmatically, I wonder whether this demonisation of sermons of Arabic is not caused by (a) the police members, in mufti of course, attending those sermons, to check for offensive and belliquous calls to arms, and the number of French spies fluent in Arabic is finite and (b) it is a way to rein in all those imans imported from Saudi who do not speak French.

Most Muslims in France are not very fluent in Arabic, too.


AlexB said...

@ Cincinna: as Nick pointed out, Art was incorrect in initially identifying a slip in Guéant's sentence. The French version of Guéant's sentence unambiguously translates _not_ as 'we do not forbid masses in Portuguese or in Hebrew' but rather 'we do not forbid masses in Portuguese or [forbid] Hebrew in a synagogue'

Art acknowledged this as soon as it was pointed out, and amended the post accordingly, so please read to the end of the post before hastily and inflammatorily tracing Guéant's words back to "the blood libel against the Jews for using the blood of Christian babies in their 'Mass'" and "the ugly strain of anti-Semitism running throughout French history and part of the French collective consciousness"

That said, it is wonderful to read blog where these matters are so incisively and graciously, by blogger and commenters alike.

Cincinna said...

You yourself characterized your lack of Faith "I am a child of the Enlightenment". The implication is that the rest of us, over 85% in every serious poll on the subject, are un-enlightened. The world view you expressed just isnt shared by most Americans.
As to knowing facts about geography and Senators, Obama himself has given speeches about "all 57 States" Maybe too much golf too many burgers & fries looking at a Ketchup bottle.

  Looking up stuff on Google or memorizing facts might win at Jeopardy, but it is information, not a substitute for knowledge.

It is great to fund a real Liberal, I.e. someone tolerant and respectful of other points of view. Unfortunately, in my experience, it is a vanishing political species.

Cincinna said...

Thanks for your correction. I appreciate your comment about the nature of this Forum, and agree. I think Art does a terrific job of setting the tone.
Lately, people have gone a little frantic & panicked over MLP, but this too shall pass. What is needed to confront this challenge is good solutions , not rants.
I often wonder why there are so few other women posters, except for me. Any ideas?