Saturday, January 17, 2015

ZUS, aka, the No-Go Zones in France and the Ongoing Debates About the Rise of Islamic Jihad

There is much discussion of the so-called no-go zones in France. Favorable press describes these as "sensitive urban zones" which is poli-speak for areas designated for special investments in urban renewal. Non-favorable press describes neighborhoods where state authority has weakened and is being supplanted by local clerics and others who wish to live under Sharia law regardless of the State authority.

I do not know who is right. I've no first hand experience and the world press is every media is now so pervasively stage managed knowing who or what to believe without first hand experience has become a crap shoot. However, the approach to so-called bad neighborhoods in the US has a history and theories one referred to as "fixing the broken windows". 

This approach is in some disrepute but that is how those who believe money applied gets the results desired. Sometimes the desire is more mysterious and if so, the results are uncertain.   A seldom noted effect of the US Model Cities projects (urban renewal in the 60s) was the clearing of large parts of the original zones to repurpose the property thus requiring the relocation of the original area to a better neighborhood. In other words, it is a complex endeavor and in such many motives predicate many goals. Caveat emptor.

What is certain is there will be no change from a ZUS if the community to which it is applied does not cooperate or are otherwise dispersed.The fact of the Muslim who saved the Jews in the kosher store is a testimony to human decency and courage. The more powerful lesson in my opinion is the fact that a Muslim was an employee of a Jewish shop owner. By hiring him, the owner saved their lives as well because he didn't let the fact of the man being Muslim stop him from hiring a good man. Of such wisdom is good karma made.

We can take endless treks into the relevancies or irrelevancies of people's prejudices and use those to avoid looking directly at the fact of sworn jihad. If that lets some feel better, then feel better. But the fact of sworn jihad by individuals predicates many kinds of response and only some of them require recognizing sworn jihad is a Muslim oath. The rest are about learning to live together.

For that to succeed, US experience, a place where that challenge has been met again and again with much success and some failure, is the more the people work together, play together and worship each according to their own belief and practice while ensuring the right of all not of their faith to do as well is the paradigm that works. What worked in the US however may not work the same in this instance because a minimum of three religions are involved. In the South the fact of common Christianity helped to build a community. It gave the Bham Church bombing a context that illuminated hate as none other could.

This is not the case today in Europe.  Europe must confront not only the fact of multi-culturalism but also the responsibility to be both unafraid and wise enough to hire the clerk who takes the money for services to a kosher business and uses it to build a family free by virtue of peace to learn about their neighbors.   And the business person who hires them must take the profits of the laborer to do the same.   Everyone is not Charlie.   Everyone lives in the basement of a church be it in a poor neighborhood or the finest flat in Paris.

It seems to me that to enable the fact of worship to add strength, real respect, understanding and appreciation of the spiritual life of those not of one's own faith must be a cornerstone of cititizenship and education. We do not need teachers that rail against one or all religions because religion will not be managed or eliminated by such negative emotions. We need teachers and leaders who can honestly and earnestly reveal the great common beauty of these human acts that have as their common goal the well-being of the family of man.

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