Libmonster ID: U.S.-1382
Author(s) of the publication: A. MEMMI

A. MEMMI

Writer

(Tunisia)

WE (Russians, Germans, French) are different. But we have a lot in common: at least Christianity - albeit different, but the Christian roots of our civilizations. We are also united by the fact that THEY come to US - Africans, Arabs, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Turks... With maximum goodwill (not everywhere and not always), we often want THEM to become US, that is, Russians of Uzbek origin, Germans of Turkish origin, and French of Arab origin.

The authors of this preface, of course, simplify the problem with this maxim.

The question immediately arises: do THEY want this? How do THEY perceive US? Moreover, why, for example, do young citizens of Arab origin in France or Belgium, who were born in these countries and do not know any other language than French, suddenly start killing US (as recently the French and Belgians) and are you ready - not for money, but for your "ideas" - to be killed?

Terrorists may be a tiny minority, but they do express a certain tendency!

It can only be understood if WE are at least mentally, at least for a while, turned into THEM. And to do this, we read the essay "Immigrant", written by an outstanding writer and philosopher, one of THEM - a professor at the Sorbonne, a Tunisian by birth - Albert Memmi.

He was born in Tunis in 1920. He is the author of widely known novels and journalistic portraits written in French and translated into two dozen languages. On the occasion of Albert Memmy's 95th birthday, the National Center for Scientific Research of France published a book "Anthology of Portraits", which presents his journalism.

"The Immigrant" is an excerpt from a book, although it is perceived as an independent literary work. It is dedicated to the possibility of integrating people from African and Asian countries into European civilization. Albert Memmi writes about his" fellow immigrants "- sometimes with pain and anguish, sometimes just as a thinker trying to stay"above the fray."

In our opinion, although more than ten years have passed since the publication of "Immigrant", its relevance and topicality have only increased.

A. VASILIEV, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, S. PROZHOGINA, Doctor of Philology, IB RAS

Emigration is not a specific phenomenon of decolonization; it has existed and still exists in most economically and politically underdeveloped countries. It is a product of poverty, fear, hunger, and an uncertain future that pushes people to leave their native country. History in general is also the history of migrations, and, consequently, various kinds of mixing of cultures and peoples. Today, perhaps, we have entered an era of worldwide unrest, when this movement of peoples is increasing even more.

Under the influence of religions that bless the uncontrolled growth of the birth rate, the irresponsibility of politicians and other factors in ex-colonized countries, many young people have appeared, among whom, in the absence of jobs, there is frequent unrest, crime is growing, and who do not see any other way for themselves than emigration.

On the other hand, the inability to meet the increased needs of its population (despite significant resources), which shows the impotence of governments, seems to push some of the ex-colonized to leave. By not openly encouraging people to emigrate, Governments do nothing to keep them in the country. Sometimes even they are helped to leave. But there are also countries, such as Morocco, where their immigrants who settled in Europe are persuaded to return. Zaire is also doing everything possible to ensure that those who have left do not stay there for very long.

And the Europeans, contrary to diplomatic declarations, turn a blind eye to those who are actually traffickers in human meat, to the organized criminal crossing of emigrants by sea, abusing the trust of those who die on the way. They are provided with administrative loopholes, places of "unloading"are indicated


Albert Memmi. Portrait du decolonise. P., 2004.

page 69

emigrant boats and speedboats, there are reception points for refugees who need to be protected in some way on the French and Italian coasts, although from there the emigrants who arrive often move to Germany or England. And it seems that it is beneficial for everyone. But especially for carriers, when women and children find themselves on their boats: they are taken at half price, but they have special hopes for human goods dealers, because this contingent of emigrants can "sympathize" with European customs officers and soften their demands... The governments of those countries from which the flow of emigrants comes manage to somehow "put pressure" on European countries, bargain with them about the influx of their people, demanding in return some customs exemptions for themselves or expanding fishing zones near their coasts for Europeans. One African leader even said, " No one in Europe can stop immigration!" This is probably true: nothing can be done against the survival instinct. One of his colleagues, who also favored emigration, no less cynically warned: "Africa is already sticking to your ass from now on!.."

Gaddafi, who once financed terrorists around the world, declared emigration a new weapon in the fight against the West... And now most of the emigrant routes pass through Libya - from Nigeria, Somalia, Morocco... It is here that refugees are put on fragile boats that must reach the shores of Europe. Even cautious Tunisians were involved in this emigrant traffic and made their seaports available to traffickers. But disasters at sea turned out to be inevitable: it was the fault of money-hungry owners of boats and boats, who filled the boats to overflowing with unhappy people, and terrible sanitary conditions, and all sorts of tricks resorted to by the initiators of underground emigration. But nothing can quench the thirst of people who have decided to leave the country. And the rulers sleep quietly, and nothing disturbs their conscience... In general terms, we can even say that in the perspective of global geopolitics, immigration, including Islamic immigration, will be something like a tool for peaceful expansion.

Naturally, the immigrant himself does not think about this. If he solved the visa problem, if he survived a dangerous journey across the sea, if he did not drown, suffocate and freeze in the truck in which he was taken away by dishonest "guides", if he managed to deceive the vigilance of customs guards and border guards at different borders in different states, if he was not cheated, robbed to the skin, if he eventually overcame all the obstacles in this monstrous game of people as copper pennies, then he will have the feeling that he has passed through purgatory. In a little while he would be on his knees and crouching down to kiss her, for he thought he had found his El Dorado...

DOUBLE BAD LUCK

The Maghrebian immigrant has a certain advantage in this regard. In addition to the "benevolence" of his own state, he can count on the relative tolerance of the consulate of the country to which he emigrates, its host society. He can get a tourist visa, which he expects to extend in some way - with or without the consent of the local authorities, while risking becoming an illegal immigrant. But this is still when it will be!.. In the meantime, he can land at Orly airport, if he has money for air travel, or disembark from the ship in the port of Marseille, where he will arrive without any adventures. And then he will take the train to Paris, where he will go to the square in front of the Gare de Lyon. Sometimes it's not the first time: he used to come here on vacation... Now he has to get a place to live, although he doesn't really worry about it: after all, the culture of this country is clear to him, he knows its customs and customs. Isn't he, ex-colonized, in his former home country?

Where will he go? Taxis that specialize in such arrivals are already waiting for him at the train station. Drivers, contrary to the law, will charge him an excessive fee, arbitrarily set by them for all immigrants, regardless of where they come from. Of course, they would not go with him to Neuilly or Passy, or to other rich neighborhoods or suburbs of Paris, or to the Rue de Bac,or to the Church of Saint-Sulpice... Otherwise, the newcomer would not be an immigrant, but some "friend of France", for whom a villa with a garden or an apartment in one of the prosperous metropolitan districts would have been rented in advance. And the real immigrant will ask to be taken to his brother, cousin or friend in those poor settlements that replaced the former bidonvilles on the outskirts of the capital or Lyon. After all, life there is much cheaper, and you can find places where you can pray, eat your own national dishes, find the usual products, spices, kosher meat...

It is here that the immigrant will get to know his El Dorado, about which his compatriots wrote to him, once in France, he will see with his own eyes this "promised land", so long desired by him... He learns that getting a job here is not so easy, and police control is much tougher than at home... He finds out, surprised: to get a job, you need to have a permit and a special certificate - a "residence permit", which is issued only if you have this very job...

On the streets, in the subway, as it seems to him, people look at him quite differently than at their own, the French. Or they talk to him with a certain exaggerated politeness, with suspicious politeness... In short, everything here is not as simple and natural as he dreamed; he feels that he is not at all one of those who are told " Welcome!" And like most people who find themselves in a foreign land, he will feel, rather, for the country that has accepted him into its bosom, some restless gratitude, and I would like to show my loyalty to it... He must state with disappointment that the love he has prepared to show France is not at all shared by its true citizens. And he will discover that immigration, far from solving his own problems, also brings trouble to France itself, and he will understand what he will experience here.

page 70

failure - and the failures that befell him in his homeland, and those that are experienced here by his new owners.

Emigration, the exodus of people from their land - one of the additional signs of impotence of young nations, their inability to solve their internal problems, to feed all their children, to provide them with a minimum of comfort of existence, a minimum of freedoms, without which it is impossible to breathe and in the absence of which they seek a way out only in rebellion. African and Asian countries are going to lose a significant number of still young, healthy people who are able to work, often educated, intelligent, with engineering degrees, simply seduced by the dream of a more decent and more pleasant life. For the same reason, doctors who have been trained in medical universities in Europe, graduates of European universities, and specialists who are urgently needed in their countries do not return to their homeland...

For the ex-mother country, immigration is a living reminder of the collapse of colonialism, when the French flag fluttered over vast territories where French domination and oppression of numerous peoples reigned. The former colonized state achieved what it demanded: independence, an independent state, and its own army. And why should he now set up his life in a former metropolis that he was said to "hate"? Now he is a living reproach, an eternal reminder of the past. Especially if the immigrant is not a Russian or Romanian, but a Maghrebin. He is the product of colonization, its collateral son, and a source of eternal remorse.

In general, a native metropolitan would accept the existence of an immigrant on their land if he were invisible or mute. However, for some time now, the demographic growth of the immigrant layer has become so noticeable that it has already acquired a threatening configuration. And warmed up by its ever-growing population in France, it dares to raise its voice, and even in its native language, and dress in its traditional clothes! There is no time for torments of conscience and memories of the past, about your historical loss. Hence the complete confusion that reigns in the minds of the French when you begin to discuss with them the problem of the consequences of decolonization.

For the former colonized, there is only one opinion: "They have robbed us enough! Let them pay us now! We demand compensation!" This means a job and documents that allow you to have it, and not loiter around looking for a job or sit on the streets, propping up the walls of houses. And even when it comes to the occupation of churches by homeless immigrants, this act does not seem scandalous or illegal: on the contrary, they think that in this way they are repaying the debt of their former colonizers.

Those who defend the rights of immigrants who do not have a "residence permit" in the mother country recall the contribution of the former colonized to help the Republic when it was at war with Germany, and then when they helped restore the destroyed economy of France: Advocates of immigrants believe that they should all be provided with the necessary documents and passports confirming their French citizenship, which will help them get out of the underground, stop being "illegal immigrants", "naturalize" and become "like everyone else": have the right to vote and not be considered "foreigners". And indeed, if you observe the fate of these unfortunate emigrants who came here in voluntary "exile", to see all their ordeals, it would be inhumane to refuse immigrants in the demand to improve their situation, their fate in a foreign land.

But it is also true, and this is claimed by another part of society that does not sympathize with immigrants, that in this case, if the country opens its doors to all those who want to be and live in it, then in general all the laws of the Republic, all the concepts of its national borders, territory and state will be violated. If you give out passports to everyone who requires them, then you will allow all foreigners who want to occupy the national territory. What will become of the united nation then? How can you predict what the influx of immigrants, their almost uncontrolled invasion, threatens France in general? After all, these are people of a different culture, and how will it affect the French culture, its principles, the country's economy, and its demographics? To introduce immigrants into the national soil means to contribute to the decline of Christian civilization, which is already under threat of extinction! This concern, more or less justified, is reflected in France in the course of the elections, when there are more and more sympathizers of "right-wing" parties.

So, maybe we should close the doors of the country more firmly, more tightly? Do not turn a blind eye to all the tricks of emigrants and immigrants already living here? After all, all their "tricks", especially in the provinces, have long been known, such as entering into fictitious marriages with French women, hiring with forged documents, using charitable organizations to rent housing, etc....

But it's not that simple. After all, society needs workers. He is also concerned about demographic problems. And both factors are interrelated: Europe itself is aging, and in four out of ten European countries, the death rate exceeds the birth rate. Well, how, from what funds to pay pensions? Now French (and generally European) women are more concerned with their careers, which used to be the lot of men, rather than their offspring. They do not give birth much and do not contribute to the demographic growth of the nation... The European industry is also in decline, it just needs the hands of immigrants.

However, even so, the cities of Europe are full of staggering young people. They are already a public threat, and Europe does not feel safe; on the contrary, it lives as if in a besieged fortress... The besieged are forced to maintain relations with the besiegers because they need their help. This is the source of some confusion and even a depressed state of mind for the host society...

Previously, it had already happened to receive Polish miners, without whose help the French coal mines could not be operated. Italian bricklayers came to work, then Portuguese and Spaniards... But it was all not long-

page 71

In France, they were a small ethnic minority, but they were not a large group of people. Their cultures were similar to the French, and their religion was the same. Eventually, they all assimilated.

Today, immigrants are a large mass, compact, connected by a completely different religion and culture, different customs and customs. How do I integrate them? What is the price to pay for their integration? Once upon a time, during the colonization of Algeria, many people were convinced that in order to prevent explosions of discontent among Algerians, they should be made French citizens, without exception. To which General de Gaulle remarked that in this case there would be several dozen Muslim deputies in the French National Assembly, which in itself seemed unacceptable, as de Gaulle believed, and the majority of the French agreed with him. What would have become of the united French nation? With its relatively intact national identity?

50 years later, by the irony of history, the French, having previously preferred to abandon the colonies in favor of preserving national specifics, are again facing the same problem. It is probably true that immigration is a punishment for the colonial sin...

But what can an immigrant do when faced with a wall of distrust and suspicion about himself? From now on, instead of gaining his position further and becoming a normal citizen of France, which he was denied before, he chooses a certain distance and confrontation. They offer him clarity in relationships, openness, but he, on the contrary, goes into the shadows, hides in the ghetto, preferring self-preservation.

THE GHETTO: SHELTER AND CUL-DE-SAC

The ghetto is not just a substitute for the Promised Land, of course, illusory and disappointing to the immigrant. But it is also a duplicate of the abandoned homeland. In some streets and alleys of the city's outskirts, where immigrants have settled, there are their prayer houses, places of Islamic worship, where some newfound imams, very exotic in appearance, teach to read the Koran and forge solidarity for all Muslims. There are also cozy coffee shops nearby, where you can watch TV programs running on North African channels or from Egypt or Saudi Arabia over a glass of tea or while playing on cheap slot machines. There are also their butcher shops with Arabic signs that invite you to taste "halal" meat. There are also grocery stores that sell products necessary for cooking dishes that you have been accustomed to since childhood in a noisy mess, like in a bazaar... Vendors of prayer mats, rubber sandals, cooking utensils, and plastic plates were also sitting on the sidewalks nearby...

The main thing is that there are no "other people's eyes" here, everyone here is "their own"... And even if not all of them know each other, their faces are familiar, as if they have known each other for a long time, and everyone feels almost "at home", almost at home... Inside the immigrant's home, everything is also in the image and likeness of his ghetto, which replaced his homeland: bright, colorful pillows, carpets brought back from abroad the sea, "from there", or the Chinese forgeries of Moroccan ones that replace them... There are chased copper tea sets brought by traders from eastern countries; small, low tables that imitate oriental furniture in tea rooms; on the wall is a reproduction of the Kaaba, a black Meccan stone. From the tiny kitchen, you can smell the same Oriental smells that you can smell on the streets. A television dish is attached to the window or roof, which in our time means much more than a mailbox for letters from relatives and friends: after all, it connects the owner of the home with all the Muslims of the world, with all the "brothers" in faith...

This immigrant "concentration", both physical and cultural, which the titular nation, especially in France, fears and exposes, is called "communotarism". By exaggerating its dangers, creating distrust and discontent with it, the French believe that the communotarism of immigrants is proof of their unwillingness to integrate into the "collective body" of a single nation. This is almost true, but only half of it.

The ghetto is like a snail shell, like a tortoise shell for the minority groups of society. After all, these minorities also respect themselves, protecting their own existence in every possible way. And in order to somehow avoid danger and threats, they seem to lock themselves in their environment, "curl up", crawl into their shells and tightly close themselves where it seems to them that they have found their shelter... At least that's what they think and want. These immigrant settlements allow them to better understand their own problems, which inevitably arise in a foreign land, and the specifics of which are not always known or pleasant to the national majority. For example, when it comes to the need to comply with religious regulations, dogmas, or express your political attachments and views. It is clear that the Islamic "integrists"are supporters of the ghetto. After all, there the collective identity survives more easily, and there, among immigrants, it is easier for them to carry out their plans and maintain constant agitation in their ranks...

Despite everything, the immigrant lives in the ghetto, but almost every day he faces the fact that he understands that the ghetto is not the solution to all his problems and troubles. Yes, the ghetto has become a refuge to some extent, it is not a prison, although it is a "closed" place, but not so much that he cannot leave it. And he goes out: both to work and on necessary administrative matters. One way or another, he is confronted daily with another world, the external world. And he, this world, penetrates more and more into it. The immigrant begins to compare himself with who he was and what he has become. And he gradually understands that the ghetto has not solved any problems related to the need to coexist with this "other", "external" world. And sometimes a crisis of consciousness breaks out that contradictions are insoluble, that it is impossible to combine Muslim and Republican foundations, religion and worldly life that reigns around. Well, how, for example, to combine the Islamic norms of female behavior with the ordinary life of French women?

page 72

And he, an immigrant, in spite of everything, still wants to integrate, wants this for himself, for his family, for his children. And gradually this process is still going on. The literary output of immigrants is still full of descriptions of the difficulties and contradictions of integration, nostalgia for their native country, affirmation of their Maghreb identity, but it is also not devoid of dreams about the future. And it can no longer be imagined without its full adaptation in the host society... The emigrant is simultaneously fascinated by the Western world, the victory of which he tacitly evaluates. But I am also outraged that I have to somehow part with some of my own traditions of life, with my collective identity... So he lives almost in a state of permanent crisis...

ISLAMIC HEADSCARF OR MESTIZO

The case of banning women from wearing the Muslim headscarf in public places is very instructive in this regard. Of course, everyone knew that this headscarf was an expression of submission to an Islamic custom, an ethno-religious tradition, like the cross worn by Catholics, or the Protestant dove, or the kippah of Jews, i.e., an expression of a certain costumed conformity. My grandmother, though not a Muslim, never went out without wrapping herself in her "haik" - a blanket made of white cloth that covers Muslim women from head to toe.

But the events that have rocked the Arab-Muslim world, and especially the war against Iraq, have given other dimensions to this phenomenon. Suddenly, many women appeared in these headscarves, who had not worn it before, and went around bareheaded. Some claimed that this was an expression of their freedom ("Aren't we free here in France?"), without thinking that it was Republican freedom that freed them from the obligation to submit to religious dogma, which, in fact, only enslaves them. Others believe that " the Muslim headscarf protects a woman from the eyes of men." Then why not protect men from women's views? It turns out that in order to protect a woman from the lust of a man, she must be made absolutely undesirable, ugly, like how Jewish women were specially shaved off their heads, turning them bald, ugly, but orthodox. And is it necessary to respect women just because they obey a religious dogma that "protects" them?

New wearers of the Muslim headscarf are participating in the process of regression of the Islamic world, rejecting the slogan of true liberation of women, which is triumphant almost all over the world. Muslim women thus continue to submit to a secret fear of men. Today, the demand of Muslims to wear a headscarf becomes a sign of a certain ideology: "You don't like it, so you don't like Muslims, their appearance annoys you! So, we, Muslim women, will specially annoy your eyes with our appearance! Let everyone know that I am one of those who are persecuted by you!.."

Thus, the headscarf is likened to a portable ghetto, testifying to the crisis of identity that Muslims manifest, that they want to somehow strengthen and consolidate their already shaken "integral" identity, distancing themselves from the French, demonstrating their difference.

And after the handkerchief-what's next? Perhaps Muslims in France have already criticized the basic laws of the Republic, gender equality, medicine for all, and non-religious secular education?.. The headscarf is just one aspect of a more general behavior that involves relying on a different lifestyle tradition. All its manifestations (not only wearing a headscarf, but also strict observance of Ramadan, consumption of special meat) together constitute a survival mechanism for the Muslim community located in the bowels of the Christian world or, even worse, simply non - religious. Hence-mutual concern, anxiety, incessant fierce debate.

But despite all the unrest, the majority of immigrants are in favor of integration, which solves the problem of Muslim "specifics" in a completely different way. This is not easy and not easier, because, in the end, there is a certain cultural shift, mestizoization. Hence the difficulties of Arab intellectuals, who solve complex questions about what will be the share of immigrants ' acceptance of Western mores and European traditions, and how this will affect the future of the Arab peoples? They believe that if they were obeyed, then in the future the wearing of a Muslim headscarf would be allowed, even if there is a cultural "mixing". But all the same, the future remains unclear, and people are afraid of it...

"Mixed" marriages in terms of "mestizo" are very revealing and instructive. It is known that half of young French Jews who marry Catholic French women (although such marriages are not welcomed by rabbis) do not want to destroy their belonging to the Jewish community... This problem is faced by both Muslims who have decided to marry a French woman, and representatives of other national minorities in France, who believe that this will speed up the process of their assimilation.

But assimilation has never been a convenient process. Partners in mixed marriages, one way or another, will experience inevitable contradictions and discrepancies with the ethno-confessional environment to which they belonged from birth, and with the one to which they have now joined. How will a devout Jew work on the Sabbath? Does a devout Muslim eat pork in the student cafeteria? All of them can either accept the difficult inevitability of some kind of "introduction", compromises, or lock in their "specificity", which still divides French "fellow citizens", or consciously agree to a gradual "self-dissolution"...

Translated from French by S. V. PROZHOGINA

(To be continued)


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