Tag Archives: Islam

Do you have a Muslim appearance?

30 Mar

Muslim appearance (Musulman d’apparence).  Expression coined by French president Nicolas Sarkozy, the 26 March, to designate the person who physically looks like a Muslim. The expression became instantly the trending topic on Twitter.

I remind you that they were Muslims or at least they were of  Muslim appearance since one of them was actually Catholic, said  French president in a radio interview with public radio station France Info, referring to confusion over the origins of the soldiers gunned down in Toulouse and Montauban.

Instantly, this claim unleashed the torrent of Twitter comments with as a trending topic #Musulmandapparence (#OfMuslimappearance) and thousands of people criticizing Sarkozy and questioning the idea of a physical look to identify Muslims.

A Green party politician, Cécile Duflot commented: “So Sarkozy actually said ‘Muslim-looking’ … When will it stop?

One Twitter user asked:  Are the bearded hipsters also of  Muslim appearance?

So what did Nicolas Sarkozy want to say? First of all he probably used the expression more out of clumsiness than anything else.

At the same time, he just repeated, probably unconsciously, some of the stereotypes about Muslims: they are bearded, they wear hats and veils and they are all Arab (by the way, according to a 2012 Pew institute study, Indonesia is the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, 205 million people.  Would you say that they have a « Muslim appearance?!)

He is probably not the only one to make such a language blunder. However, as a president-candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy should have known that the religious affiliation doesn’t’ shown in the facial features of a person. If it were, he too could become a Muslim, with a little help of  Photoshop.

"Of a Muslim appearance", a caricature of a French president Nicolas Sarkozy with the mustache, imitating ironically his presidential poster.

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Sarkozy and Muslim community: he loves them, he loves them not

16 Mar

Nicolas Sarkozy in the Paris mosque? You must be joking.

No. Here is the picture (if you don’t believe me, believe Le Monde that published it)

Nicolas Sarkozy seems to be confused.

In the past few weeks, one could think that the current French president/candidate at the upcoming presidential elections  Nicolas Sarkozy is not fond of Islam, considering the bitter halal polemics that took place  (see here and here).
Then, all of the sudden, he paid a visit to the heart of the Muslim community in Paris, the Great Mosque, to inaugurate a memorial to Muslim soldiers died fighting for France in the First World War. The visit was also the opportunity to assure the
mosque’s rector and the French Muslim Council leader, Mohammed Moussaoui. “Our compatriots of the Muslim religion that they naturally have the right to follow their faith as any other citizen has the right to follow his religion”, affirmed the president”.

The religion he was talking about wasn’t his main preoccupation during the last five years of his presidency, of course, but he spent quite a lot of time trying to limit the freedom he was passionately talking about on Wednesday, 14 March.
In the 2010 the Islamic veil was banned from the public spaces, which provoked various reactions of Muslim –and not only-community and caused the massive protests all over the country. 2011 was marked by the his comments on multiculturalism’s failure and a debate on the Islam’s place in France. Indeed, as we could see, have become a one of key campaign themes in the wake of controversies — largely fed by the far-right — from the face veils, Muslims praying in the street to the most recent halal products.

Will one visit be enough to win back the trust of Muslim voters? Surely not, especially if Nicolas Sarkozy intends to court the voters of Marine Le Pen’s Far-right Party.

Halal meat: a hot-button issue of presidentail campaign

9 Mar

National Front leader Martine Le Pen launched the debate in February.  In her speech in Lille, the Front National presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said “all the abattoirs in Ile-de-France sell halal”, meat slaughtered the “Muslim way”, adding  that this was being done unknown by the consumer.

Although it turned out the slaugherhouses mostly supplied local Muslim butchers and most meat sold in Paris came from further away, the halal meat is on the campaign menu of almost every presidential candidate.

With the French Prime Minister François Fillon saying recently that  “Religions should rethink about keeping traditions that don’t have much in common with today’s state of science, technology and health problems,”  to Europe1 radio, it seems that halal is the meat that feeds this presidential campaign.

But what is really Halal? 

Photo credit: Mikael Colville-Andersen

Halal in Arabic means „permissible“. In the terms of food, it would mean that the food is permissible to Islamic law. The following can’t be consumed: pork or pork by products, animals that were dead prior to slaughtering, animals not slaughtered properly, blood and blood by products, alcohol carnivorous animals, birds of prey, land animals without external ears. Halal certification is an assurance that a product has been thoroughly vetted and found to conform with Islamic Dietary Laws.  In France main Halal certifying agency are The Grande Mosque of Paris and the Mosque of Evry.

How is halal meat different from “ordinary meat”?

Halal meat means that the animal is slaughtered properly. That means that Allah’s name must be pronounced during slaughter, the instrument has to be very sharp severing the windpipe, jugular vein and carotid artery (slit at the throat, while its head is pointed in direction of Mecca). The animal must be hung upside down in order to bleed dry because blood is not halal. This kind of slaughter is accomplished by a Muslim or by the “People of the Book” (Christian or Jew). Many observers find kosher meat, that  acceptable.   Non-religious butchers on the contrary stun the animal first, saying this lessens pain.

Why Muslims don’t eat pork?

Pork belongs to the category of Haraam, an Arabic term meaning “forbidden”. In Islam it is used to refer to anything that is prohibited by the word of Allah. It is the Qu’ran which draws the distinction between the Haraam and Halal food, and the swine is believed not to be clean, thus Haraam. Furthermore, a swine cannot be slaughtered at the neck due to its anatomy (see Halal slaughetring).