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A Nation Divided? The Charlie Hebdo Aftermath, BBC Three | reviews, news & interviews

A Nation Divided? The Charlie Hebdo Aftermath, BBC Three

A Nation Divided? The Charlie Hebdo Aftermath, BBC Three

Troubling investigation of the disaffection of French Muslims

Trouble ahead? Shaista Aziz visits an uneasy Paris

All the politicians lined up to chorus "Je suis Charlie" after the nauseating massacre of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists in Paris in January, but three months later, how is that emotional declaration of solidarity against murderous extremism holding up? For this documentary, British Muslim Shaista Aziz went to Paris to find out.

Her inquiries suggested that France is split in two over the issue of Western values versus Islamic fundamentalism. So is much of the rest of Europe, but France's rigorous insistence on maintaining the state's secular status, and therefore banning such faith-based accoutrements as the full-face veil, has made the issue especially acute.

Aziz almost couldn't get into the French parliament building, thanks to her hijab

A writer and stand-up comic, Aziz makes a good reporter because she asks pertinent questions with a refreshing lack of wordy clutter. One of her most vivid moments was an encounter with Pierre Larti, a leading light in France's right wing Generation D'Identitaire movement which wants to ban immigration and keep France – and for that matter Europe generally – white and un-Islamic (one of their slogans is "live together without them").

Meeting Larti in a bar, she asked if she, as a hijab-wearing Muslim woman of Pakistani descent, would be welcome in Generation ID's preferred version of society? No, said Larti, because she was not European or English. Aziz quizzed him about his determination to deport all immigrants, which would include second or third generation ones. They were born and educated in France, Aziz argued. They're French. Where would he send them to? If Aziz were French he'd send her to Pakistan – just writing this sentence highlights the logical absurdity of his argument, though presumably logic (or the absence thereof) wouldn't much trouble a putative Generation ID government. We saw a clip of Larti making a speech in Lyon in which he declared: "Fundamentalists, if you want the war, believe me you'll get it."

But it was Aziz's lower-key encounters that proved even more troubling than Larti's belligerent posturing, suggesting a cultural fault-line rapidly becoming a gigantic fissure. Aziz trekked out to the notorious banlieues in the Parisian outer limits to take the cultural temperature of young Muslims. The ones she spoke to seemed intelligent and thoughtful (and English-speaking), but while declaring themselves outraged by terrorism, they didn't feel wholly French either. "I'm not Charlie and I'm not a terrorist," as one put it. Samira, a well educated middle-class woman back in France after living abroad, found she couldn't get a sniff of a job if she applied using her real name, but when she called herself Mathilde the offers promptly came pouring in. "I can't even recognise my country," she lamented (heads of state in Paris claiming to be Charlie, pictured below).  

On the other side of the coin was Marion le Pen, a French MP and niece of Front National president Marine. Aziz almost couldn't get into the French parliament building to see her, thanks to her hijab, but when she did she was not encouraged to hear Ms Le Pen saying that there are many citizens "who are French on paper but not in their hearts".

You couldn't help concluding that things could only get worse. Discussing the controversial French "apologie du terrorisme" law, Aziz picked up on the case of eight-year-old Ahmed, who was arrested and, bizarrely, convicted when he refused to agree that along with all his school classmates he too was Charlie. Ahmed argued that "I am with the terrorists because you made cartoons of the Prophet." Aziz held this up as a specimen of draconian over-reaction, but surely the bigger question is who taught an eight-year-old kid to say it?

She was not encouraged to hear Ms Le Pen saying that there are many citizens 'who are French on paper but not in their hearts'


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I saw it as insulting to France, the presenter was way too vocal in her opinions, why not examine whether the veil is cultural or religious? She had no interest in the concept or the reasons for secularism and therefore French culture. She had no interest in the ideas of assimilation. She started with the conclusion that Muslims were victims and it's up to France you change their views and culture not the immigrants population. Not good journalism at all!

I agree with this comment, how was this journalism with the presenter dragging on the now familiar theme of "them and us" with "us" as the worthy victims. The teenagers interviewed expressed views which were predictable for their age, which of us did not feel the establishment was against us in their teens? They also display naivety about both the world and their own religion. It was just plain boring!

I also agree. The journalist was not impartial at all. Quite the opposite. In an interview with one of the Charlie Hebdo editors, she was not inquisitive rather plainly aggressive and was not at all afraid to admit that the blasphemous cover to the satirical magazine depicting the Prophet was offensive to her. I was quite disillusioned with it all. The translations were also 'cleansed'. More thought provoking is the fact that one of the latest Charlie covers satirized the Vatican Church, yet I have heard no statement from the Holy See condemning the act. However, if we see the Prophet depicted again, you can bet your bottom dollar we'll be seeing muslim protests all round and placards saying: "death to Charlie Hebdo". That's not very civilised is it? Are we surprised that the Front Nationale has garnered so much support over the years???

At first the programme looked promising. But in the end it was the same old PC stuff that you would expect from the BBC. Even the subtitles were altered to satisfy the PC birgade (fundamentalists instead of islamists). Once again the muslims were presented as victims. There is absolutely no questioning of one's own behavoiur. I don't think there will be ever any progress made as long as muslims don't step out of their 'us and them' mentatlity. If they want respect and understanding it's their call to prove that they are fit to face a free and open society. Disappointing!

I thought this was a very thought provoking documentary; Where is the equality if you are not even given as interview becuase of your Muslim sounding name? Muslims are discriminated even before anyone can be bothered to find out what they may be like as an individual.

The programme missed a number of key issues. Not only is the National Front in France aggressive but certain sects of the Islamic society is equally provocative! Countries like France opened it's doors to immigration not to change it's cultural landscape but to provide opportunity and escape from persecution. Islam has a natural propensity to being divisive; it's probably inadvertent but the impact is often negative. Where is moderate Islam hiding? The Islam that is able up coexist.

I found this programme quite one sided. The presenter went into a govt building with her headscarf which was against french law, imagine what should happen if we broke the law in a Muslim country! Protestors were demonstrating against the use of halal meat in a food outlet, why is halal meat needed in a non Muslim country?, when non Muslims go to a Muslim country, are they provided with pork meat? I agree headscarves are a persons right to wear, but when non Muslims go to e.g Arabic countries, are they allowed to wear whats in their Western culture?? The far right french party whose leader said he wanted anyone non french to be repatriated, does that include all the Spanish, Germans, English, and Italians that have to "go home" as well? I am not on any one side, but it seems to me that Muslims demand their right to practice their culture in any country, but non Muslims visiting a Muslim country are not allowed to pracfice their own customs. I think this is why some people are becoming more and more islamophobic, Muslims demand Muslim rules in non Muslim countries, and do not extend the same fairness in their own counties.

I'd like to start by saying that I am one of these "French Muslims", except that I am not a Muslim (yet born of Muslim parents). Now I am tired of this assumption that all descendants of North African immigrants are themselves Muslims. Last time I checked Islam wasn't genetically hereditary. So the views expressed in this documentary do not reflect the fact that people like me do exist, although I agree on a few points. What bothered me also is the fact that Ms Aziz conducted the interviews as a Muslim, not simply as a journalist. She interviewed the Muslims as Muslims, even greeting them in Arabic, instead of a simple "bonjour" (which she reserved for the proper French people). It's Muslim person meets other Muslim persons in a different country but it's all the same because we're all Muslims. It is ironic that Ms Aziz laments the French youth of Muslim extraction being labelled Muslims before being French, when it is exactly what she is doing. Her being Muslim doesn't qualify her to understand other Muslim people of a different culture. I have some sympathy for the plight of the French Muslims; but for me the real issue to be addressed is racism. If even "assimilated" people like Samira in the documentary are discriminated against then it is not so much about people sheltering in Islam.

"Last time I checked Islam wasn't genetically hereditary." Actually you know very little of your parents faith then. Islam is carried from the father to the child and apostasy is punishable by death in Islam which you would likely know, NO other religion on earth orders death for simply rejecting said religion. As for Muslim's being portrayed as Muslim first French second...that is because they are Muslim first. The only issue I have with her portrayal is that they are not French second. They are Muslim (insert their parents country of origin). Indeed even in my own country we have Muslim's who make it inherently clear that they are Muslims first and foremost. We have second and third generation Muslims lamenting the "wars at home". They are speaking of the middle east. Muslims will never integrate into a new country eventually France will have a civil war and just as Pakistan broke off from India Muslims will seek their own state. It is closer than you think I only hope that there are enough Europeans left in Europe when these types of wars break out to defend their countries and remove the Islamic cancer from the body of Europe.

It is clear from the first minute of the piece that Shaista Aziz has “an axe to grind”. The non-Muslims that Ms. Aziz interviews are almost exclusively from the right or ultra-right political sector. How can this give an accurate picture of the debate in modern France? Of the people she does interview, Ms. Aziz doesn’t even make an attempt to take a balanced position, instead jabbing her fingers at, and speaking over, her interviewees. Why did she not interview any well-integrated French Muslims of which there are millions. Some of the interviewees selected for the show spoke somewhat broken English which is understandable given that the 'documentary' is, um, set in France and the Ms. Aziz makes no attempt to speak anything more than “Bonjour” throughout; instead choosing to speak English and a smattering of Arabic – neither of which are national languages in France. Ms. Aziz in fact seizes on the less-than-perfect English of some of the people she meets by openly mocking them. This is sanctimonious cultural ignorance writ-large. The most compelling evidence that Ms. Aziz is no journalist is the fact that she calls it hypocritical that there was broad-based international support for the artistic and editorial staff of Charlie Hebdo following the atrocity against the magazine staff; whereas Dieudonne was arrested for showing solidarity with the cold-blooded murderers who took the lives of innocent members of the public in the Paris supermarket. Ms. Aziz’s obvious bias is plain for all to see. Ms. Aziz also chose to break French laws which preclude the display of religious symbols in state buildings by wearing her Hijab – and flippantly answered that “her being British” was somehow a get out of jail card. What kind of message does this send? Laws should only apply to those who can speak the native language? Ms. Aziz may not like the French law on secularity but Europe is a continent of nations united by their respect of the rule of law and Ms. Aziz should be no different. Indeed, there are many countries in the world that have similar laws precluding the display of religious iconography in public buildings including – until a few years ago – a country (Turkey) that is 99% Muslim. The interviewer ends the broadcast by telling the audience that “France should make Muslims feel more at home” – and indeed it should, but why – one may well ask – did she not also add that people of whatever faith that have arrived in France should embrace the country that that they have chosen to live in by adhering to its laws and making an effort to integrate culturally?

This documentary was not at all impartial, portraying muslims as victims. Charlie Hebdo has mocked every religion including Christianity. Why aren't Christians protesting in the streets or threatening death to those who write comics they may not agree with? The presenter seems to believe that censorship is acceptable, and this as we all know is a very dangerous motion. I would go as far to say that this documentary is part of the problem.

From my point of view, this is a chip on shoulder story. If you have to change your name to be more familiar, you change it. My brother has an "invented" first name as he finds his native name is not common and therefore will not be remembered easily. That is fatal to a salesman! He has had no trouble whatsoever getting jobs and actually retired as CEO of his company in a western country. Before you look for a racist explanation, look for a more normal one. Most people are not racists and are not idiots. But of course if you go looking for them, you will find them. Have you not noticed all chinese you meet have a western first name? That is not their real name. That is to make it easier for other people to interact. You have to go halfway. And if you are a normal fairly nice person, you will find others go the other half.

The original version of this has been taken off air by the BBC worldwide due to copyright infringement . . . . .Yeah right ! It's been taken off due to the amount of comments which were disgusted at this terrible piece of leftist propaganda. A terrible piece of so called reporting. Although trying outwardly not to condone the shootings in France, I feel she's trying to appease the cowardly act by apportioning the blame on the right not to criticise the muslim faith. She says she's in France to see what's going on there.A country with a history of racial and religious conflict. It's put forward as if it's only France that has this problem, and that the French are islamophobes. It's not the French that are the problem. How come every country inhabited by muslims have the same issues ? At 15:40 they go on to mention the wearing of the niqab and hijab. The girl says "We're in a country where we have FREEDOM of speech and WHO you want to be is the basis of YOUR country" . . . . .YOUR ? What she's actually saying is that she's a muslim in France and wants to impose her religion on them ! One girl then says " It's ONLY a piece of cloth" . . .To address both things mentioned. What happened to the rights of Charlie Hebdo to have FREEDOM of speech ? . . . .and Charlie Hebdo was ONLY a piece of paper with an image on it ! I admire the French for banning the wearing of these ridiculous garments, I only wish the British government had the balls to do the same. Pierre Larti's response to her questions reflect so many British views regarding muslims residing in Britain. Like Pierre, I don't see her or any muslim living in Britain as British or European. " If a dog is born in a stable, it doesn't make it a race horse". I myself live in Britain, my grandparents settled here around 1900 from Italy, and we did one thing that muslims don't do,WE INTEGRATED ! I love all nationalities but I can say from a first hand account that multiculturalism doesn't work. I've seen my home town decimated by muslims to the point that it's unrecognisable. The profiled skyline is now one of mosque minarets with speakers wailing out three times a day, it's like going back three thousand years. I believe like Pierre, that hand on heart, all muslims should be repatriated.

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