Common Word, Common Lord

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

Dearest France:

This summer, my wife and I were blessed to spend our vacation in Paris. Yet, I must admit that I had no small amount of hesitation. I was well aware of the issues of the Muslims in France, and how they face very real discrimination and alienation. I was worried about how we, as Muslims, would be received in a city that still felt the pain of the heinous attacks on Charlie Hebdo. Although I hate to admit it, I also was influenced by the common notion among many of my fellow Americans that the “French are rude.” And so, as we landed in Paris this past July, I was worried.

That worry, however, quickly melted away into sadness and regret. Not because something bad happened to me. On the contrary, I felt sadness and regret over how badly I misjudged Paris and her people. There was not a single person with whom we met and interacted that was not the nicest to us. From the driver who took us from CDG to our hotel, to the hotel clerks, to the waiters at the many cafes we visited, to the Metro information desk workers, and even to the Customs officers: everyone treated us with respect and courtesy.

And it did not take long after arriving in Paris to completely fall in love with the city. It has beautiful architecture, and so many of its rues and avenues brim with history and character. Its monuments and museums are breathtaking in their glory and majesty. Its parks are beautiful and serene, giving way to sight lines that are truly one-of-a-kind. And the cafes, and shops, and creperies, and boulangeries were so numerous, so wonderful in their diversity, that it was impossible to become bored.

Diversity. That was one of the things that struck us most about Paris. It is a microcosm of the world, with people from all over the globe living, and working, and eating, and sitting together. It was at once awe-inspiring and refreshing. Moreover, the laid back spirit of the people and the lifestyle was very refreshing, having come from a country where everyone is in an incredible hurry all of the time. Furthermore, I was inspired by the sight of everyone sitting in cafes with their friends and families without their mobile devices in their faces all the time. It is something I wish more of us Americans did here at home.

My experience in Paris completely changed my view of France, and it has made me a Francophile. I have embarked on learning French, so that I can say much more than “Bonjour,” “Merci beaucoup,” and “Combien ca coute?” and actually know what is being said to me in reply. Despite what happened on 11/13, I want to go back to Paris again, and because of this special feeling I have for Paris, the attacks on Paris have really devastated me, even though I am thousands of miles away.

Thus, dearest France, please do not succumb to those forces in your country that want to fundamentally change your beautiful nature which I experienced first hand this past summer. Do not listen to those who want to expel all immigrants, mass intern thousands, or pass draconinan laws that will fundamentally change what makes Paris and France so great and divide the country even further along religious and ethnic lines.

Please, dearest France, do not cease to be the country of the waiter who, when I ordered Beef Bourguignon, he said, “You know that has wine, right?” He knew that I was Muslim and was not allowed to have alcohol, and I was so appreciative of that gesture of respect for me and my faith. That is the true nature of France.

Please, dearest France, do not become like the mayor of Chalon-sur-Saône, who wants to force pork upon Muslim and Jewish schoolchildren. That is not who you are; that is not the beauty of the people and country I experienced and came to love.

No, I was not there on 11/13 when savage barbarians opened fire on hundreds of innocent people in an act of savage murder. Je deteste ces sauvages. I understand that the safety and security is paramount in any society. But I urge you not to follow the path of those in your midst who seek to divide and will ultimately destroy the beauty of France and her culture and way of life.

The French Muslims are not your enemy; they are part of you, and they love their country as much as all other Frenchmen and Frenchwomen. They have been saying this all along, and they do not need me – an American Muslim – to speak on their behalf. The horrors committed on 11/13 were done by savage criminals who tried, with their hatred and bullets and bombs, to tear apart what makes Paris, and by extension all of France, so wonderful. I urge you, dearest France, not to let those savages win.



Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus