According to Salon Beige, citing as its source the Catholic journal Présent, entire towns in the Parisian area are no longer recognizably French. This is hardly surprising except that it dovetails with the on-going uproar about Sarkozy's proposed ministry of national identity. For in fact, those who maintain that there is no correlation between immigration and national identity should stroll through the town of Clichy, west of Paris:
In the words of the president of ACAC - the Association of Merchants and Artisans of Clichy: "We are witnessing the disappearance of traditional businesses. In Clichy, a town of 56,000 inhabitants, there is no delicatessen. You have to go to Levallois. The last two cheese shops closed their doors several years ago." (...)
Apparently the leftist city government has suddenly become aware of the problem. "Having watched, helpless (sic), the proliferation of taxiphones, bazaars, shish-kebab stands, Muslim bakeries and butcher shops, travel agencies specializing in the Maghreb (...) the municipality decided to take action," notes Le Parisien, pin-pointing the problem in the title of its article: "Clichy seeks to limit the number of ethnic businesses." Its first step? To purchase "the last (!) traditional butcher shop in the downtown area before it's taken over by a North African artisan who wants to open a halal butcher shop." One more halal butcher shop in a town where they are already innumerable...
Anne, a resident of the town is concerned: "Today, the kebab stands, the Moroccan tea rooms and halal butcher shops constitute the main neighborhood stores. As for the market place, it's not an adequate substitute. There's a lot of second-hand clothes and not enough quality food items.
Le Conservateur adds his own insights to the story:
(...) Since I pass through Clichy on a regular basis, I can confirm this situation that affects many other Parisian neighborhoods in the throes of "diversity".
It's a revealing lesson, and, in my opinion, quite useful. It allows us, through the simple observation of facts that everyone agrees on, to prove the existence of the problem of national identity, which, according to Mr. Bayrou and Mr. Begag, does not exist.
(...) Since it is still forbidden to speak of the question of immigration without being called a racist, a bigot or a hot-head (...) we have to turn to concrete examples to illustrate the problem of population substitution and its cultural consequences.
Assimilation becomes an imperative wherever mixed marriages (mixité)and mixed-blood (métissage) play systematically to our disadvantage: mixed couples with a conversion to Islam, or children who are no longer baptized because Christians always capitulate to the Other, the disappearance of our cultural symbols, of our clothing traditions, of our social codes - as is shown by the odious habit of spitting on the ground, something we see even the "chalk faces" doing.
Le Conservateur is probably aware that spitting on the ground is an old "custom" in the United States. I remember, from my earliest childhood, being disgusted at the sight of a man spitting. Often, it was a well-dressed person, not poor, not from a ghetto, who did this dirty deed. For years it was only men. My mother explained to me that men had more "colic" than women and they had to "bring it up." She was naive, of course. Today, everybody does it. And it's not even an offense any more considering other things, more disgusting, that people do.
The photo from Webshots, of Square Casanova in Clichy, is a reminder of the French "look" of the town, where long ago, Vincent de Paul was a country priest.