Friday, January 09, 2015

On France

In light of some recent news, a couple thoughts:

-Americans following this story need to refrain from projecting American notions of race onto France, which has its own history. I, an American Ashkenazi Jew, am white. French Jews who look exactly like me aren't... whatever the equivalent of "white" is in France. The white privilege framework maybe doesn't apply to groups of white-by-US-standards people who are being attacked as a historical scapegoat minority where it is they actually live.

-It's possible both to worry about backlash against Muslims, and to avoid leading with that concern. That said, France hasn't been, ahem, all that fantastic about integrating its Muslim-or-of-Muslim-origin minority. Any analysis of these events that can't get past Terrorism is unlikely (as history has shown) to make much headway. Explain but not excuse and all that.


Londoner said...

The kosher supermarket attack was carried out by a romantic couple consisting of a black African man and a woman who could, ironically, pass for a Belle Juive.

It's the New France!

Not knowing anything about French naming patterns, where would someone named Hayat Boumeddienne hail from? Apologies to her if she's ethnically French, which she certainly could be based on her appearance.

Phoebe said...

I can't say I know (or have Googled) her ethnic background. There are - I should know! - plenty of people born to one minority parent and one ethnically-French one. If it turned out she was Jewish, that would make for an unexpected twist.

What I do know, however, is that today's French Jews and French Muslims alike are often of North African origin (relates to French colonialism), and do indeed often tend to look similar to one another.

Andrew Stevens said...

They are both Algerian in origin. The majority of Algerians are Arabs or Berbers and I assume one of those is Boumeddiene's principal ethnicity, but it's racially very diverse with a significant minority of sub-Saharan Africans. There are almost no Jewish people left in Algeria as virtually all of them fled to France after Algeria was granted independence.

I'm fairly sure Hayat Boumeddiene was born to a Muslim family as well though it was the association with her boyfriend which radicalized her.