Friday, March 23, 2012

Ties That Bind

Interesting article by Rachael Levy on Slate about issues of ethnic and religious identity in France. The basic gist is that ethnic identity is supposed to subsume French identity, which is pretty different from the American idea that you can be a [something]-American. Therefore, French identity, which was created prior to the emergence of a French multi-ethnic society, is essentially code for "ethnic and religious majority French." Minorities are expected to assimilate or they are aggressively "othered" and contextualized as non-French. Most famously, the question as to weather Dreyfuss could have truly been both French and Jewish was answered in the negative in the early 20th century.

That is basically a permutation on the issue of French identity for Muslims in recent years, but the Toulouse shootings brought the Jewish angle to the fore. I am constantly confronted with striking similarities in the way modern Muslims as compared to frequent historical (and sadly, sometimes current current) instances of anti-Semitism.

It's a reminder that as Muslims and Jews, our differences often blind us to our broad and important similarities.

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