A horrible tragedy in Toulouse France today. A Rabbi, his kids and several others shot and killed or badly wounded. Rightly, or wrongly, it is being assumed that a Muslim extremist carried out these attacks. Similar attacks have happened in this part of France over the last two weeks.
France is in a complicated situation. Approximately 6 Million Muslims call France home. (9% of the total population). Most of those originally from North Africa. France is a Catholic nation, but the vast majority of the French would not consider themselves to be “Christian” or even believers in any sense of that word. About 30% of the Muslim refer to themselves as “practicing Muslims.”
But the secular (agnostic) government of France has chosen to clamp down on Muslim immigration and have created laws that make life difficult for the Muslim populace. Wearing the Burkah has been banned. (And we all know that banning things only makes that thing far more interesting to do). Even the way Muslims and Jews cut their meat – halal and kosher – has come under attack as an affront to the “typical French butcher.”
So what do we have here? The French feel themselves losing their French-ness. Their culture. Could it be that the 9% Muslims or the half a percent Jews are actually taking over? England has only 3% Muslim, but I know many an Englishman who is sure that their country is being “Islamicized.” It’s a powerful motivator when someone is convinced that another is ruining their way of life. I grew up with this mentality all around. The Communist. The Liberals. Then the Gays. And now the Muslims.
The unfortunate result of the majority accusing the minority of “Taking Over” is that it causes the minority to feel attacked. It’s a weird thing psychologically. The majority (especially when it’s the vast majority) should feel secure and have no need to fear the minority. Likewise, the minority ought to not worry about the majority’s over-reaction, knowing that this is simply how the majority acts towards anything new. Unfortunately, neither side are rarely so mature.
So the Big Boys on the Block freak out because of the New Kid. The New Kid reacts to the freaking out and lashes out in anger. Fear breeds anger and anger begets (and legitimizes) more fear. It’s a vicious cycle.
BUT IT CAN BE BROKEN!
It only takes a handful of truly brave souls to step out and say “ENOUGH!” Enough of the unrealistic fear. Enough of the newscasts that prop up this fear. And enough of the angry mentality of retaliation. What do we call both sides to – the Way of Jesus. Laying down your life for the other. Standing in the gap for the wounded brother. Serving the widowed mother.
We say NO to Jewish kids getting shot by angry Muslims. And we say NO to the fear-mongering that isolates those insecure Muslims. And we say YES to the way and the one who can lead both out of their fear and anger. The reprisal and retaliations. The bitterness and loneliness that leads to this isolation. And with dignity and respect we invite them to follow Jesus. The one who loves and embraces. The healer of the nations.