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diversity, culture, music, in various European countries


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I read this article. It is long, but very interesting. I wanted to see how everyone on here felt about the mixing of cultures and what not. From reading this article, I get the feeling France isn't doing the best thing for its own good...I dunno.






French Strive to Be Diverse Without Being Less French



Published: July 24, 2004



ARIS, July 23 — After 15 years of soul-searching, France has decided to create a Museum of Immigration. Why now? For generations, France successfully absorbed waves of Poles, Russians, Italians, Spaniards and Portuguese — and remained French. Then over the past 30 years millions of migrants flooded in from the third world, and it was France that changed.


A Museum of Immigration is a fairly typical French response, one financed by the government and intended by politicians and bureaucrats to address a social problem through culture. Yet while willing to open a museum, France's cultural elite continue to resist embracing the creative energy represented by French artists, writers and performers of African, Arab and Asian descent.


The energy is certainly there — in stand-up comedians and above all in pop music, the art form where performers and public can most readily connect without the mediation of cultural institutions. But in theater, movies, television and the visual arts, this "other France" is far less visible.


Will a Museum of Immigration change this? The museum is to open in 2007, but its purpose is still not clear. Will it simply demonstrate that millions of the French have foreign roots or will it acknowledge that, by becoming French, immigrants actually change and enrich French culture and society?


That said, France is hardly alone in confronting what is a relatively new dilemma: whether to resist outside cultures or to incorporate them? The United States has struggled with the same question, as new issues of bilingualism and multiculturalism, brought on by large Hispanic immigration, have come up.


By contrast, Britain, Germany and the Netherlands had little experience of immigration, except for Jews from Eastern Europe and Russia, until after World War II. And countries like Spain, Italy, Portugal and Ireland, long "exporters" of people, have begun to receive third world immigrants only in the past decade and still view them as potential menaces to national identities.


Yet the evidence suggests there are few better tools of integration than culture: it empowers minorities and immigrants and helps persuade nationals that ethnic diversity is a good thing. The Irish and Jewish input in American literature, for instance, has been no less crucial than the Afro-American contribution in music and dance. And while Hispanic influence is new, it has accelerated erosion of Protestant Anglo culture as the dominant American model.


The very process of immigration creates new generations who carry two or more cultures, say, Algerian and French, Turkish and German or Indian and British. And this hybrid is a powerful tonic.


It is certainly one secret to the lively arts scene in Britain, where black and Asian artists and performers have fought for and won a place in the cultural mainstream. For Adrian Lester, a black actor, to portray Henry V at the National Theater or Anish Kapoor, an Indian-born British artist, to win the Turner Prize is no longer news. Many Britons now accept an integrated cultural world as a true reflection of their multiracial country.


The change dates back to the 1980's, yet it is now seemingly irreversible. "When I was casting `My Beautiful Laundrette,' " the British-Asian novelist and screenwriter Hanif Kureishi said of the landmark 1985 movie about Asians in Britain, "there were few Asian actors around. Today 200 kids would show up. I'd say that, even with some racism, this is a success story. The notions of integration and assimilation are no longer useful here. We're too intermixed for that."


Music led the way, with Caribbean steel bands already popular in the 1960's and the annual Notting Hill Caribbean carnival long a fixture. Today that calypso music has fused with reggae, rap and British pop to create a new sound. The BBC, too, has contributed, not only with black and Asian anchors and reporters, but also with first- and second-generation immigrant families in soap operas. British-Asian movies like "Bend It Like Beckham," in turn, act as bridges between British and immigrant communities.



Published: July 24, 2004



(Page 2 of 2)




Again, immigrants not only infiltrate British culture; they also change and invigorate it. Take literature: V. S. Naipaul was followed first by Salman Rushdie from India and Ben Okri from Nigeria and now by British-born writers of foreign parentage like Zadie Smith and Monica Ali. In the visual arts, Mr. Kapoor was followed by Chris Ofili and Steve McQueen.


Language is an important variable: until recently, most immigrants came from former British colonies and were English-speaking. In contrast, in Germany, home to 2.5 million Turks, the language barrier as well as German indifference were long obstacles to crossfertilization of German and Turkish culture. If there was an exchange, it worked in only one direction: Turks were influenced by German culture. Now that, too, is slowly changing.


This winter "Head On," directed by Fatih Akin, a Hamburg-born moviemaker of Turkish parentage, became the first German film in two decades to win the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival. And last month it won five Lolas, as the German Oscars are known. Further, Mr. Akin is just one of several Turkish-German directors — Buket Alakus, Thomas Arslan, Kutlug Ataman and Zuli Aladag are others — whose films are now winning German audiences.


In the 1990's, Mustafa Gundogdu, known as Mousse T., injected life into the German pop music scene, while several Turkish-German novelists writing in German are being noticed. "Turkish artists are increasingly being accepted even by the German public, not only as Turks, but also as this country's creative artists," Faruk Sen of the Essen-based Center for Studies on Turkey recently told the German news agency, D.P.A.


In France, home to some five million Muslims, multiculturalism is seen as a threat, because the French view their culture as part of their identity.Thus, while black and Arab singers like MC Solaar, Khaled and Cheb Mami or comedians like Djamel Debbouze and Fellag are popular, the cultural establishment often treats them as outsiders.


The Museum of Immigration is unlikely to address this issue. "We must urgently recognize that immigration forms part of the history of France," Jacques Toubon, a former culture minister, said of the new museum. But what about reflecting France's cultural diversity today in the mainstream media, like television? "Every year, I deplore the near-absence of French black and Arab presenters," said Zair Kedadouche, a French-Arab politician. "Should television exclude people only because the color of their skin and their names are different?"

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while black and Arab singers like MC Solaar, Khaled and Cheb Mami or comedians like Djamel Debbouze and Fellag are popular, the cultural establishment often treats them as outsiders.

i don't know this fellag and i find jamel debbouze over rated


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well, some bad 'culture' news...



Violent Videos Found in Frankfurt Islamic School




Police officials in Frankfurt on Thursday said they found violent and degrading videos during last weekend's raid of an Islamic school belonging to a Moroccan cultural association. Prosecutors had said that the raid occurred at the al-Taqwa mosque on Sunday after a 9-year-old told her teacher that she and other children had been shown violent videos calling for a "holy war against unbelievers," including one video showing a beheading. "What we saw on the video is, in our view, inciting people," said Frankfurt police spokesman Peter Liebeck. "It glorifies holy war." Liebeck said that someone claimed to have bought the video at the Frankfurt mosque, which is why the search was conducted. Police said it could take weeks to fully investigate the confiscated data, mostly because the Arabic texts have to be translated into German.



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