“Are You Afraid of All the Muslims?”

Miranda Richmond Mouillot

By Miranda Richmond Mouillot, an observant Jew born in North Carolina, who lives and writes in the South of France

After “Do you miss home?” the question I am asked most frequently about my 10 years in France is, “Do you feel safe as a Jew?” Invariably, the query cloaks another, usually unspoken one: “Am I afraid of all the Muslims?” And so I wish to say what a decade here has shown me: the generalizations contained in those questions frighten me more than any experience in France ever has.

I don’t mean this in ideological or statistical terms, although those are important points to be made as well. Those terms are too general, and what I wish to share is the opposite; it is purely personal. But as the wave of terror that follows crimes committed in the name of any creed or god pushes us to embrace stereotypes and generalizations, I believe it bears repeating: in my 10 years on French soil I have learned that choosing how and when to discuss my Jewishness with a French person can be a fraught and sometimes painful affair – unless, that is, he or she happens to be Muslim. I have never been treated with anything approaching intolerance by a Muslim in France; more often than not, I am hailed and welcomed as a kind of distant cousin.

Source: Salon, January 25

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2 responses to ““Are You Afraid of All the Muslims?”

  1. Sharon Sommerville

    Thoughtful and intelligent insights. Thank you.

  2. That is certainly a fresh and an unexpected perspective of the issue.