The Crescent and the Tricolor

The Crescent and the Tricolor,
Christopher Caldwell, The Atlantic Monthly
Islam has passed Protestantism and Judaism to become the second
religion in France. Not since 15th-century Spain has any Western
European country had so substantial a Muslim population as France
has now. But what effect is the Islamic immigration having on
France, a country well known for percolating racial tensions?
Surprisingly, writes Christopher Caldwell in The Atlantic
things in France might be changing. Caldwell
covers a history of tension and discrimination between native-born
whites, who call themselves francáis de souche–that is, ‘root
French’–and the mostly Arab and African Muslims. However, he
frames his article with an inspiring anecdote that points to better
times ahead. In 1998, the French soccer team, a motley crew that
included players born in Ghana, Guadeloupe, and Algeria, upset the
Brazilians to win the World Cup. To celebrate, a million people
poured out onto the Champs-Elysées to stage an impromptu parade,
and it became abundantly clear what a multiracial society France
had become. Blacks celebrated with Asians who celebrated with Arabs
who celebrated with native-born whites. ‘Within days,’ Caldwell
writes, ‘it had become a cliché to call it the most important
demonstration since the liberation of Paris from the Germans in
1944. It was a celebration less of French sports than of French
society–and of immigration’s role in that society.’
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