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.
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 (Alsace – Lorraine), 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.
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! “.