France’s Multicultural Dystopia. Why many of Europe's Muslims don't want to integrate with secular society By LEON HADAR
It all started, as it does quite frequently these days, as a debate on Facebook, this one among a group of libertarians discussing the relationship between religion and state.
A friend posted a news story reporting that a halal supermarket—i.e., a supermarket selling only food and drinks that are permissible under Islamic law—in Paris has been ordered by local authorities to sell pork and alcohol (which are not halal) or face closure. Apparently older residents of the area had complained that they were no longer able to buy the full range of products that had been available under the store’s previous ownership.
“We want a social mix,” said the head of the municipality. “We don’t want any area that is only Muslim or any area where there are no Muslims.” He added that he would have reacted in the same way had a kosher supermarket opened on the site, and indicated that the authority was taking legal action to revoke the shop’s lease, which runs until 2019.
Members of the Facebook group seemed to agree that this was another example of the French tradition embodied in the nation’s constitutional requirement of laïcité,or the strict separation of state and religious activities. This is sometimes contrasted with the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution—which guarantees freedom of religion but doesn’t require the government to maintain secularism.
Notwithstanding a recent court ruling that a Denver bakery could not refuse to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, the general consensus among my Facebook friends was that what had taken place in Paris would never occur in the U.S. No federal, state, or local government would force a licensed halal supermarket to “diversify” the range of its products by adding alcohol and non-halal meats.
But as the group’s contrarian, I decided to challenge the evolving agreement among my friends. Aren’t we being perhaps a bit dogmatic when we elevate political principles above the lessons we draw from real-life experiences?