Fri, Jun 03, 2005 - Page 8 News List

What Christian identity?

By David Camhi

The affirmation that the "Christian identity of European people" is "historical evidence," ("Thank God for the French," Letters, June 1, page 8), shows a lack of understanding of the complexion of Europe today.

First of all, French voters' rejection of the EU constitution has nothing to do with religious matters, but is the result of economic and political dissatisfaction.

Speaking of religion, I would use myself as an example. I am a European from France and am Catholic. I am of Jewish descent and I have two French cousins, whose last name is Al Yussuf, and who are both Muslim.

I am Catholic, but certainly not Christian, as the only person I pray to when I have some trouble is the Virgin Mary, who is seen as the gardener of us all. She is much more recognized in the south of France than the Christ himself. It is not by chance that in Marseille "La bonne Mere" (the Holy Good Mother) is the most important monument.

Religion doesn't have much to do with the European identity, and that is why the constitution does not mention the Christian identity in defining our big community. I am closer to people from the Mediterranean, from Morocco to Lebanon and through to Greece than I ever would be to my fellow compatriots from the north of France.

Turkey, with its 100 million Muslims, has always played a big part in the European identity. It has always been the gateway to commercial exchange with the East, and has played a big part in European development. How many Turkish people are living in Germany today? And in France?

The etymology of my last name comes from Turkey and means "mosque," which is quite funny for a person of Jewish descent.

There are many good reasons Turkey should be refused entry in the EU, but none of them should be based on religious criteria.

To conclude, I would like to note also that the last time Europe was united was under the Roman Empire, by people who were firm believers in polytheism. So, where is the "Christian identity" of Europe? Is it really historical evidence?

David Camhi


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