Napoleon, the Jews and French Muslims

Here’s an interesting story about possible parallels between the Jewish Emancipation in Napoleonic France and the status of modern French Muslims. The former event just celebrated its bicentennial. The article focuses on one component of that particular period:

To find out if there was something in Jewish law and custom preventing integration, Napoleon summoned a council of Jewish leaders and put to them 12 questions about Jewish laws and customs…[T}he more important questions related to the transition a marginalized people were making to a new idea of citizenship: Jews born in France were treated by the law as citizens, did they regard France as their country? Did they feel they had an obligation to defend it?

The Jewish leaders came to the conclusion that there was nothing in their dogma which would preclude them from integrating into society and being good patriots. So the author asks this pertinent question:

Could one imagine a ceremony at the Hotel de Ville in 200 years where the Muslim community reaffirms its commitment to French definitions of secularism, integration, faith and patriotism?

Very good question.

International Herald Tribune