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samedi, juillet 19, 2008 Article: A Muslim woman too orthodox for France

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yea.. i try not to generalise

A Muslim woman too orthodox for France
By Katrin Bennhold International Herald Tribune
Friday, July 18, 2008

When Faiza Silmi applied for French citizenship she was worried that her fluent French was not quite perfect enough or that her Moroccan upbringing would pose a problem.

"I would never have imagined that they would turn me down because of what I choose to wear," Silmi said, her hazel eyes looking out of the narrow slit in her niqab, an Islamic facial veil that is among three flowing layers of turquoise, blue and black that cover her body from head to toe.

But last month, France's highest administrative court upheld a decision to deny Silmi, 32, citizenship on the ground that her "radical" practice of Islam was incompatible with French values like equality of the sexes.

It was the first time that a French court had judged somebody's capacity to be assimilated into France based on private religious practice, taking la�cit� - the country's strict concept of secularism - from the public sphere into the home.

The case has sharpened the focus on the delicate balance between the tradition of Republican secularism and the freedom of religion guaranteed under the French Constitution - and how that balance might be shifting. It comes four years after a law banning religious garb in public schools was reinforced. And it comes only weeks after a court in Lille annulled a marriage on request of a Muslim husband whose wife had lied about being a virgin. (The government subsequently demanded a review of the court decision.)

So far, citizenship has only been denied on religious grounds in France when applicants were believed to be close to fundamentalist groups.

The ruling has received almost unequivocal support across the political spectrum, including among many Muslims. Fadela Amara, the French minister for urban affairs, called Silmi's niqab "a prison" and a "straitjacket."

"It is not a religious insignia but the insignia of a totalitarian political project that promotes inequality between the sexes and is totally lacking in democracy," said Amara, herself a practicing Muslim of Algerian descent.

Fran�ois Hollande, the leader of the opposition Socialist Party, called the ruling "a good application of the law," while Jacques Myard, the conservative lawmaker elected in the constituency where Silmi lives, demanded that face-covering veils be outlawed.

In an interview, Silmi told of her shock and embarrassment when she found herself unexpectedly in the public eye. Since July 12, when Le Monde first reported the court decision, her story has been endlessly dissected on newspaper front pages and in late-night television talk shows.

"They say I am under my husband's command and that I am a recluse," Silmi said during an hourlong conversation in her apartment in La Verri�re, a small town 30 minutes southwest of Paris. At home, when there are no men present, she lifts her facial veil and exposes a smiling, heart-shaped face.

"They say I wear the niqab because my husband told me so," she said. "I want to tell them: It is my choice. I take care of my children and I leave the house when I please. I have my own car. I do the shopping on my own. Yes, I am a practicing Muslim, I am orthodox. But is that not my right?"

Silmi declined to have her photograph taken, saying that both she and her husband were uncomfortable with the idea.

Silmi married Karim, a French national of Moroccan descent, eight years ago and moved to France with him. Their four children, three boys and a girl, aged from 2 to 7, were all born in France. In 2004, Silmi applied for French citizenship, "because I wanted to have the same nationality as my husband and my children." But her request was denied a year later because of "insufficient assimilation" into France.

She appealed, invoking the right to religious freedom. But on June 25 the Council of State, the judicial institution with final say on disputes between individuals and the public administration, upheld the ruling.

"She has adopted a radical practice of her religion, incompatible with essential values of the French community, particularly the principle of equality of the sexes," said the ruling.

Emmanuelle Prada-Bordenave, the government commissioner who reported to the Council of State, said Simli's interviews with social services revealed that "she lives in total submission to her male relatives. She seems to find this normal and the idea of challenging it has never crossed her mind."

But everything is not as Western clich� might have it in the Silmi household. As she recounts her story, it is her husband who serves a steaming pot of mint tea and chocolate cookies. Silmi herself collected this interviewer from the rail station in her car. She does not wear her facial veil while driving and says that she also lifts it when she picks up her children at the local public school.

"What hurts me most is that people who don't know me judge me like this," she said. Journalists got many facts wrong, she said, starting with the number of her children and ending with the assertion that she refused to take off her veil when she was interviewed for her citizenship. "It is simply not true," she said.

M'hammed Henniche of the Union of Muslim Associations in the Seine-Saint-Denis district north of Paris, fears that the ruling may open the door to what he considers ever more arbitrary interpretations of what constitutes "radical" Islam.

"What is it going to be tomorrow? The annual pilgrimage to Mecca? The daily prayer?" said Henniche. "This sets a dangerous precedent. Religion, so far as it is personal, should be kept out of these decisions."

In one sign of the nature of some of the criteria used to evaluate Silmi's fitness to become French, the government commissioner approvingly noted in her report that she was treated by a male gynecologist during her pregnancies.

The Silmis say they live by a literalist interpretation of the Koran. They do not like the term Salafism, although they say literally it means following the way of the prophet Muhammad and his companions.

"But today 'Salafist' has come to mean political Islam; people who don't like the government and who approve of violence call themselves Salafists. We have nothing to do with them," said Karim Silm, a soft-spoken man with a visible prayer mark on his forehead and a religious beard.

His wife explains that in 2000 she decided to wear the niqab, a dress code typically found on the Arabian Peninsula, because in her eyes her traditional Moroccan attire - a flowing djelaba with head scarf - was not modest enough. "I don't like to draw men's looks," she said. "I want to belong to my husband and my husband only."

She has given herself until September to decide whether to challenge the ruling.

France is home to nearly five million Muslims, roughly half of whom are French citizens. Criteria for granting French citizenship include "assimilation," which normally focuses on how well the candidate speaks French.

Lately, though, President, Nicolas Sarkozy has stressed the importance of "integration" into French life. Part of his tougher immigration policy is a new law to make foreigners who want to join their families take an exam on French values as well as French language before leaving their countries.

Karim, a former bus driver who says he is finding it hard to get work because of his beard, dreams of moving his family to Morocco or Saudi Arabia. "We don't feel welcome here," he said. "I am French but I can't really say that I am proud of it right now."

mercredi, juillet 16, 2008

Vidéo Phénomène Manga - le cosplay

how could it make fashion if it's not in fashion?
i guess it's trying to say that it's been in the culture for a while that it's been widely accepted and not to be regarded as a phenomenon that will die out after the fever. how very positive and accepting are the french, one may think...

mercredi, avril 16, 2008 Article: France acts to outlaw anorexia Web sites

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everyone suffers from some sort of eating disorder anyway aye?

France acts to outlaw anorexia Web sites
By Doreen Carvajal International Herald Tribune
Wednesday, April 16, 2008

In the capital of high fashion and ultrathin models, conservative French legislators adopted a pioneering law Tuesday aimed at stifling a proliferation of Web sites that promote eating disorders with "thinspiration" and starvation tips.

The bill, approved by France's lower house of Parliament, still faces a vote in the Senate. But if passed, it would take aim at any means of mass communication - magazines, blogs, Web sites - that promote eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia with punishments of up to three years in prison and �45,000, or $71,000 fines.

The new law was sponsored by Val�rie Boyer, a conservative lawmaker from the Bouches-du-Rhone region in the south of France, but was also supported by the government's health minister, Roselyne Bachelot.

"We have noticed," Boyer said in an interview with The Associated Press, "that the sociocultural and media environment seems to favor the emergence of troubled nutritional behavior, and that is why I think it necessary to act."

With such a law, the French legislators are seeking to tame a murky world of some 400 sites extolling "ana" and "mia," fond nicknames for anorexia and bulimia. Since 2000, the Web sites have multiplied in different languages with blunt tips on crash dieting, binging, vomiting and hiding weight loss from concerned parents.

In Spain, support groups have emerged to counter the influence of pro-ana Web sites, and government authorities prodded Microsoft to close down four such groups on its social networking site, Live Spaces. Health experts in Britain have also attacked the growth of Web sites that refer to anorexia as "my friend ana."

The wording of the bill would make it illegal to "provoke a person to seek excessive weight loss by encouraging prolonged nutritional deprivation that would have the effect of exposing them to risk of death or endangering health."

Critics from the French Socialist Party complained that the new law was vaguely worded and rushed through the lower house by the UMP, the conservative party of President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Eating disorder experts also expressed doubts about whether such a law would actually help victims or create even more demand for the sites by creating new publicity about their existence.

"Ultimately, I think it's a mistake to ban them because I think that you're going to be hard pressed to demonstrate in a very clear way that these sites have a direct negative affect," said Michael Levine, a psychology professor at Kenyon College in the United States whose specialty is eating disorders and the effects of mass media.

There is some emerging evidence that Web sites promoting anorexia do have a negative impact, according to research by Anna Bardone-Cone, a psychology professor at the University of Missouri whose work was published in The International Journal of Eating Disorders. Bardone-Cone created a typical pro-ana Web site and randomly assigned 235 female college students to view it or a fashion Web site featuring conventional models.

Her research showed that the young women who looked at the anorexia site later felt lowered self-esteem.

Bardone-Cone, though, said she had mixed feelings about the French approach to use legislation to tackle the issue. She advocates the blocking of such sites from schools and public libraries, but said that education is the best approach to reach the typical young women drawn to the sites.

"The people who they are targeting are very vulnerable populations," she said. "These are young girls, teens."

As written, the proposed French law does not make it clear who would be ultimately responsible for the contents of such sites - a blogger or the Internet Service Providers hosting the site.

An aide to the lawmaker, Boyer, who asked not to be named, said the UMP expected that the proposed law would be amended to address some of those questions. And he added that the idea was to target institutions that promote eating disorders, noting that "we cannot exclude fashion shows if there is a problem of health" or the death of a model.

The proposed law - the result of a collaboration between the Boyer, the UMP and the Ministry of Health - is one of the strongest measures proposed since the 2006 death of a Brazilian model from anorexia that prompted soul searching in the fashion industry.

Last week, French lawmakers and fashion industry members signed a nonbinding charter to promote healthier body images in a nation where the Health Ministry estimates that more than 30,000 people suffer form anorexia.

But the proposed legislation drew criticism from the French Federation of Couture. Didier Grumbach, president of the organization, told The Associated Press that it was impossible to legislate body weight.

"Never will we accept in our profession that a judge decides if a young girl is skinny or not skinny," he said. "That doesn't exist in the world, and it will certainly not exist in France. "

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samedi, avril 05, 2008

l'article «Entretien avec John Hurt», sur


hsiaohui vous invite à lire l'article «Entretien avec John Hurt»

Son message :
ok, I should watch these films to know what he's talking about.

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