City of Brass

City of Brass


Ramadan row – French fatigue

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Ramadan is like a magic word. You need only to utter it and suddenly people become insane:

The trial of seven men for armed robbery was due to start on 16 September in Rennes.

But last week the court agreed to a request from a lawyer for one of the accused to put it off until January.

In his letter asking for the delay, the lawyer noted that if the
trial were to start now, it would fall in the Muslim month of Ramadan.

His client, a Muslim, would have been fasting for two weeks and thus, he said, be in no position to defend himself properly.

He would be physically weakened and too tired to follow the arguments as he should.

The accused in this case are garden-variety criminals, on trial for mundane bank-robberies. Naturally, therefore, the suggestion that Ramadan be invoked as any kind of argument for anything is immediately taken to signal the end times for Western civilization. As one muslim blogger once observed, Muslims are Orcs.

The request for a delay is not some kind of Shari’a end-run around justice, it’s a request completely and fully within the justice system. There’s no Islamic basis for the request, either, it’s a request based on the accused physical state (Ramadan just happens to be the reason). If the lawyer was arguing for a trial delay because of some vague notion of sensitivity to Isamic belief, then that would be nonsense, but the argument that the accused needs to be fully alert when defending himself against charges in a court of law – especially upon the stand – is a perfectly reasonable one.

As usual, the guardians of Western sensitivity are easily bruised, insisting that the imbroglio violates the concept of separation of Church and State. The French concept of Separation, Laïcité, is probably better expressed as “State hostility towards Church”, though that hostility is modulated by French racism, meaning that it is expressed more towards the faith of its ethnic minorities. The result is that the State, claiming to be Separate, actually ends up involving itself all the more directly in religious affairs. For example, the French ban on hijab – this violates in a fundamental way the concept of Separation, because it uses the power of the State to define what is acceptable religious behavior and what is not, in a much more intrusive way that the UK or the US do. I previously argued that the government plays a necessary role in oversight of religious actions, using the Manchester child abuse case as an example – the key difference there is that existing Law was used as an impartial standard to assess the religious act. The religious act itself was not defined illegal, but the details of how it was practiced are constrained by law.



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