'France destroyed cultural backbone of others'

By Selin Calik Muhasilovic

ISTANBUL (AA) – We have destroyed the cultural backbone of the other for many years, said a French research director from the Institute of Research and Study on the Arab and Muslim Worlds (IREMAM).

“During, let’s take the rhythm of our relations to Algeria, since 1830, we destroyed the institutional, political, military, cultural backbone of the other. We were the other. The other had to be us,” said Francois Burgat to Anadolu Agency.

Speaking on the rise of racism in Europe, Burgat said: “We were in a situation of complete hegemony on the Muslim world. This was during the colonial period.

“So this is where we come from.”

Burgat said that the “previous dominant” found himself in a newfound position.

“He [the dominant] has to accept that he is no longer the unique reference for modernity, the good or the progress,” he said. “He has to accept the fact that the other nations on the earth have equal rights.”

Burgat recalled the episode involving Turkish-German footballer Mesut Ozil who quit from the German national team in July, citing racial discrimination.

Since May, Ozil was criticized by German politicians and media outlets, for meeting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in London ahead of June 24 elections in Turkey.

– Racism and Islamophobia connected

He added that similar situations were experienced in France some 20 years ago.

“Zinedine Zidane, for instance, was the target of these kind of expressions,” he said, mentioning the Algerian-origin footballer of the French national team.

“Before the Germany incident, in France many people used to say; immigrants are French when they score a goal in football and they are immigrants when they lose,” he added.

Stating that “the enemy, or the other” was an Arab some 20 years ago, now it has become “a Muslim”, Burgat said racism and Islamophobia were connected.

“The identity of the other has just moved from racial understanding to religious understanding,” he added.

“Thirty years ago, my father was working in a steel factory in the French Alps. He said to me, ‘Look Francois, these buses, for years we have sent them empty toward Morocco. A specific region of Morocco, [the northern region of] Rif. And they came back full.

And if this process hadn’t been going for 10 or 15 years, the company wouldn’t be what it is nowadays.”

He underlined that Christianity was not the only legitimate ground for a multicultural society in the Europe, and added each religion had its own unique features.

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