Thinking of getting married in France? Think again you might be expected to wave the French flag.
In France, however, it has become another space for French officials to engage in identity politics and regulate how its citizens celebrate.
The country could soon ban foreign flags at wedding ceremonies held in public buildings as part of an attempt to defend so-called “republican values.”
The latest amendment is part of a raft of measures aimed at the country’s Muslim population, particularly those with hyphenated identities.
Officially, the amendment to the so-called “separatist bill” making its way through the French parliament doesn’t specify a particular nationality that would be targeted.
Legislators that voted to pass the amendment have made it clear who they think it’s aimed at — Algerians.
“If Algerians are happy to be in France, let them show it with a French flag,” said one legislator when asked about the amendment.
Another French legislator, Henri Leroy, said of Algerians who hold wedding ceremonies in public buildings, “They invade the place noisily without any respect”, adding, “In France, the town hall is the symbol of our identity. It is therefore logical that only our flag flies there.”
If passed in the final version of the bill, the new law would see French mayors around the country more easily call the police on weddings they deem not sufficiently respectful of France.
The comments by the legislators and the law were immediately derided on social media.
One said that the country has become an “open-air comedy sketch.”
Another user commenting on the law was even more blunt “France is trying to eradicate the roots of kids of immigrants, specifically African kids. This country is racist and hates Arab and black kids.”
Whereas another pointed to the double standards the country’s minority is often subjected to, saying, “It’s funny how they didn’t mind the flags when an Algerian won them the World Cup.”
When France won the World Cup in 2018, with a team that largely hailed from immigrant roots, it was celebrated as ushering in France’s new face. That event hasn’t proved the turning point some may have wished.
Some have also accused French legislators of failing to focus on the real woes that society faces due to the Covid-19 fallout.
“We are all dying, there are plenty of professionals who are shutting down, there are plenty of restaurants that are on the edge of the abyss, and they come to break our balls with stupid laws, it’s terrible,” said one individual criticising the law.
As this law is making its way through the French assembly, a member of a left-leaning Popular Front party went on French television to ask Algerians to be grateful for colonisation.
The aptly-named political commentator Guillaume Bigot said, “We must say to Algerians: We, French, are proud to have been colonised by Rome. You Algerians should be proud to have been colonised by France.”
The comments sparked widespread outrage, given that France’s brutal 132-year colonisation of Algeria led to widespread massacres and impoverishment.