A daunting task: defending human rights in France

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While France likes to take pride in being “the country of human rights”, it utterly fails to fulfill this claim in significant respects.

One of those is the problem of European ethnic minorities or cultures in its territory.

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Ever since the French Revolution (in the name of the secular goddess Reason), the government has declared French as the only language of the republic and has systematically persecuted all minorities, forbidding or discouraging them to speak the tongue of their ancestors in their own land.

As a consequence, Breton ( a Celtic language spoken in Brittany), Occitan and Catalan (Romance languages spoken in the South) have almost disappeared from the country.

In my own homeland (AlsaceLorraine), the Germanic dialects spoken by most of my forefathers are gravely threatened since they are no longer transmitted to the youngest generation, owing to past French propaganda according to which regional languages are nothing more than dialects of poor brainless peasants.

It wasn’t rare in the recent past that school teachers would severely punish any child speaking in dialect or even beat him or her.

Clearly, taking measures for wiping out the tongues of a whole sedentary population which has been annexed in the past entirely satisfies the definition of a cultural genocide.

The logical fallacies used by French supremacists [also called Jacobins after the name of the fanatical (and murderous) revolutionaries who first followed this goal] change absolutely nothing to the picture.

It is just not true that raising bilingual children would undermine the unity of our country, and even if it were, this would be no morally sufficient reason for violating a fundamental human right, namely that of self-determination of people having always lived here.

What makes this evil all the more egregious is that Jacobins are the first to get indignant when French-speaking minorities are discouraged from using their language (such as in certain towns in Quebec or in Belgium).

Many of us have felt greatly encouraged while seeing the French parliament removing one legal obstacle for the ratification of the European regional language charter.

If it were finally adopted, there is the real hope that Breton, Occitan, Catalan, Alsatian and Lorraine Franconian (my own Germanic dialect) would be automatically taught in bilingual schools on a large scale as it is done with Catalan in Spain, German in the Italian Sud-Tirol and Welsh in the British Wales, which has greatly contributed to the preservation of these tongues.

The problem is that it still has to be ratified by the French senate which is dominated by conservative and reactionary minds, making it very unlikely.

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I want to start an international petition in favor of the ratification of the chart.

My arguments would be organized according to the following lines:

1) It is a shame for a mighty modern Western nation such as France not to respect the right of ethnic minorities on its ground to preserve their cultural and linguistic peculiarities.

It is all the more awkward that all other nations of the European Unions are granting such fundamental rights to their minorities.

2) Upholding regional languages greatly contributes to the richness of our nation, which is also reflected by touristic attractiveness

3) In many cases, the bilingual characters of certain regions were a real bridge towards other European countries.

In Alsace-Lorraine, French-German bilingualism led (notice my use of the past :-(  ) to an easy access towards the whole German-Speaking Europe and greatly facilitated the understanding of Dutch as well as the learning of English.

The knowledge of Occitan and Catalan in South France made it very easy to learn Italian and Spanish and in turn also Portuguese.

It goes without saying that the lost of bilingualism went hand in hand with tremendous economic losses, not only for the concerned regions but also for France as a whole.

4) Bilinguilism does not menace by any means the feeling of being French.

(Actually quite the contrary is the case. It is the repeated persecutions from French supremacists which have disgusted me from the French language and culture, making me prefer Germanic stuff.)

I would like many people all over the world to sign my petition. The contributions of prominent Academics and Politicians would be fantastic, since this would clearly be a wonderful way to put the French senate under pressure by bringing it into a very embarrassing and uncomfortable position.

Now I feel very discouraged and anguished because French supremacist lobbies are extremely powerful in our country and dispose of tremendous means for imposing their views on all the rest of us.

But I feel a strong urge to do something against this revolting injustice and to defend my own culture.

Like Bob Marley famously sang: “Get up, stand up! Stand up for your rights! “.

7 thoughts on “A daunting task: defending human rights in France

  1. I’ll sign it! I can’t say that it affects me at all but I agree that the idea that one might speak the local patois is not viewed positively at all and this is wrong. My mum is from Brittany and knows not one word of Breton, but I do have some more patriotic relatives who have a strong Breton identity.

    France fails at upholding human rights at many levels, from the way it handles special needs to how elitist education is and the way it conducts workplace promotions to name but a few. How it continues to disregard other local languages as less than French is a disgrace and the whole culture of ‘French is best’ needs to change. It is entrenched though.

    • Hello Pauline.

      Thanks for your support!

      “France fails at upholding human rights at many levels, from the way it handles special needs to how elitist education is and the way it conducts workplace promotions to name but a few. ”

      Of course, but such things plague many other Western nations and are a consequence of wild Capitalism .

      Here I wanted to focus on one Franco-French problem which affects me considerably.
      While wandering in my region /Lorraine, I am overwhelmed by an unbearable sadness while seeing historically Germanic villages and small towns (Luttingen, Menskirch, Sierck, Launtroff, Durdal and so on and so forth.) where all German speakers are more than 60 years old.

      Now can you imagine my emotions while reading French supremacists (I prefer this phrase to Jacobins) who argue it is a GOOD thing that children can no longer speak the tongue of their ancestors?
      Can you imagine my feelings when the very same French supremacists get utterly indignant if the same thing occurs in Belgium or Canada?

      These folks spurn the Golden Rule and human decency.
      What would occur if a Western country were to do the same in Africa? Cultural genocide.
      So why shall we not call that by name in France as well?

      Otherwise, what are you currently doing in the UK? Do you have a British husband?
      I am asking because it is rare to see a froggy speaking as well as you do🙂

      Do you have some kind of Christian background? I can’t remember.

      I have been living in Lancashire since October, and I have understood a vital point: despite all appearances, English folks are NOT Europeans and suggesting so is a capital crime🙂

      • I see what you mean. The French ‘exception’ carries a lot of weight. I’d never really considered how it feels for French people whose local culture continues to be actively under attack

        I’ve been in the UK for over 15 years and married a Franco-british bloke 5 years ago. I’m near Brighton these days. I’m not doing any paid work at the moment due to wanting to spend my girls’ early years turning them into bilingual wonders.

        I’ve actually got two blogs the frogatlarge one where I talk about being French in england, And another (bysearching.wordpress.com) where I fail to consistently talk about my faith issues and hide a little bit because I’m in the middle of the hugely uncomfortable process of distancing myself (at least theologically) from my evangelical upbringing

        Also, wordpress constantly interchange the two so I forget what I link to half the time. I’m a huge lurker on the faith blogs

  2. Hi. I was just hoping for a bit of quick clarification. Is the issue that languages other than French are legally prohibited from being taught? Does that mean English, German, and Spanish aren’t taught in public schools? That seems implausible, in which case it’s only specific languages being singled out as problematic for French nationalism. (?) Sometimes France does things that remind me of Turkey’s absurd laws against ‘insulting Turkishness,’ Is your goal that these traditional languages can be offered when the local community desires it, or that they must be offered even in the absence of demand, or that they not merely be offered but that in certain regions it’d be compulsory to study the local language? Although I have some family that are Quebecois, and I find the last alternative troubling as it eliminates choices for students.

    • Hello.
      Thanks for your comment and interest🙂
      No, of course nothing is forbidden.

      However in other European countries, regional languages of ethnic minorities are taught by the state through bilingual schools and high schools. So in South Tirol in Italy there are state financed German school, in Spain there are state financed Catalanish schools, in Wales Welsh schools and so on and so forth.
      In France this occurs very seldom because the state has no duty to act accordingly.
      Due to that (and past intensive propaganda ridiculing the speakers of dialects) the regional languages are dying out.

      It truly aches me to drive through my region and Germanic villages such as Menskirche (Man Church), Dalstein (Dale Stone), Koenigsmacher (King Maker) and see that all people younger than 40 years are barely able to utter one German sentence (let alone in dialect).

      This makes me depressive and furious at the same time.

      So I want to start this international petition so that the French senate will ratify the chart.

      Once it is done, there is hope for dialects everywhere in the country to survive.

      Lovely greetings from Lorraine / Liebe Gruesse aus Lothringen🙂

      • I know nothing about public education in France. Is it not possible for the minority regions which wish to preserve their language to simply change the curriculum in their region without the approval of the central government? Where I live, there’s currently a heated legislative dispute about whether to adopt a federally proposed set of curriculum standards or to have standards unique to our state. Is the barrier to such a solution a lack of resolve on the part of minority students and families? It’s my understanding that in Ireland as well as the reservation schools of native Americans it’s often very difficult to induce kids to undertake to learn their own languages.

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