JEANNETTE Bougrab is the author of Ma République se Meurt (My Republic is Dying).
JEANNETTE Bougrab is the author of Ma République se Meurt (My Republic is Dying).

FOLLOWING a government decision made public last week, French policemen are henceforth allowed to grow beards and openly display tattoos on their arms and necks, if so they wish.

These are the changes of times and rules and regulations can always be left behind then forgotten, say those who do not see any anomalies in a number of measures that go against French traditions but were recently adopted by the Socialist government.

Schools are being pressured to drop the student uniforms and an old criterion that allowed teachers to hold back marks because of spelling mistakes in examination papers is soon going to be obsolete.

Many French intellectuals say they are revolted by these reforms. Two books that came out recently and became immediate best-sellers are Le Suicide Français (The French Suicide)by Eric Zemmour and Soumission (Submission) by Michel Houellebecq. Both writers warn against the changes being made at the peril of French culture and civilisation.

But the most astonishing of these reactions comes from Jeannette Bougrab, born in 1973 in France to Algerian immigrant Muslim parents. She has written two books, with even more dismal-sounding titles, about the decadence of the French society: Ma République se Meurt (My Republic is Dying) and Maudites (The Cursed Ones).

Figaro magazine recently carried out an interview of the author who says she is so disgusted with the refusal by the government to face the threats to the French culture that she has decided to quit her country of birth.

Asked if, following the Charlie Hebdo massacres in Paris last January, the authorities were able to draw necessary conclusions, Ms Bougrab says:

“The chronology of religious fanaticism in France is eloquence in itself. In January 2006 a man named Ilan Halimi was kidnapped, tortured for many weeks then assassinated by a barbaric gang. In March 2012 Mohammed Merah walked into a school and shot down a teacher and three children; two days earlier he had already killed three French soldiers.

“In May 2012 Mehdi Nemmouche, another young man of French nationality, entered a museum in Brussels and gunned down four people. I try to point out in my books that if we continue putting off our decisions over such threats to further and further dates, things will only grow worse and worse.

“The ‘I Am Charlie’ march in Paris in January this year in which four million people had participated means nothing if we do not take the right steps. A dozen journalists were murdered during an editorial board meeting then four more people were massacred in a food store. Our only reaction was a street protest. This is the proof of a terrible defeat and an absolute symbol of our decline.

“Have we gone so blind that we cannot see the horror and the monstrosity in these acts? Have we become so stupid that we think these things will go away all by themselves?

“My parents were illiterate immigrants, but they had taught me I was lucky to be born in France and, with study and hard work, could get out of poverty. Today I have the feeling of being abandoned.

“I spent all my life defending the values of France but following the January events I feel suffocated in my own country. I have decided to move to Finland and live there for the rest of my life.

“I have travelled to many Muslim countries, including Pakistan and Yemen, to encounter women who are fighting for their rights. I have rendered homage to these heroines in my books. But the French leftists have remained stuck with Mao Tse-tung and the Khmer Rouge and are indifferent to the fate of their country.

“Under such circumstances I feel free to leave France. But even from Finland, my struggle will continue.”

—The writer is a journalist based in Paris.

ZafMasud@gmail.com

Published in Dawn, July 21st, 2015

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