Archive for Nicholas Sarkozy

Juan Cole: Sarkozy’s Loss in Part Due to His Islamophobia

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on May 10, 2012 by loonwatch

France’s Muslims may not be flexing their electoral muscle as much as they can be, but according to a recent poll 93% voted for Hollande, which would be a considerable boost for the Socialist.

Juan Cole dissects Sarkozy’s loss and how part of it was due to Islamophobia:

Sarkozy’s Loss in Part due to his Islamophobia

by Juan Cole (Informed Comment)

The bad economy in France and outgoing President Nicolas Sarkozy’s refusal to do a stimulus program, preferring instead “austerity,” were the primary reasons he lost the election to Socialist Francois Hollande. That and Sarkozy really is an annoying, strutting peacock who wore out his political welcome among voters.

But some of the margin of his defeat came from his pandering to the discourse of the French anti-immigrant far right, which he did especially vocally after he was forced into a run-off against Hollande. Sarkozy said there are too many “foreigners” (he meant immigrants) in France, that police should have greater leeway to shoot fleeing suspects, that the far right are upstanding citizens. He even talked about “people who look Muslim.”

Many observers in France argue that Sarkozy stole so many lines from the soft-fascist National Front of Marine LePen that he mainstreamed it, and made it impossible for the Gaullists of the Union for a Popular Movement (Sarkozy’s party, French acronym UMP) to argue that LePen and her followers should be kept out of national government because they were too extreme. (The irony is that Sarkozy himself is the son of a Hungarian father and his mother was mixed French Catholic and Greek Jewish; and he postured as Ur-French!)

Sarkozy tried to depict the French Left as so woolly-headed and multi-cultural that they were coddling and even fostering the rise of a threatening French Muslim fundamentalism that menaced secular, republican values. Theinfamous daily hour set aside by the mayor at a swimming pool in Lillefor a few years for Muslim women to swim without men present was presented as emblematic of this threat. But it was all polemics. Some Gaullist mayors did the same thing, and for longer.

And, Sarkozy showed much less dedication to Third-Republic-style militant secularism than most Socialists (only 10 percent of the French go to mass regularly and almost all vote for Sarkozy’s UMP, so the Catholic religious right is his constituency). But, he did support the Swiss ban on minarets and he banned public Muslim prayer in France, and the wearing of the burqa’ full veil (popular mainly in the Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia and worn by like 4 women in France aside from wealthy wives of emirs in France on shopping sprees).

Sarkozy’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and punitive laws in the end drove centristFrancois Bayrou to repudiate him. Bayrou, leader of the Democratic Movement party, had run for president on a platform of reducing the national debt and reining in public spending, and was more center-right than center. He got about 9% of the votes in the first round of the presidential election.

Late last week, Bayrou made the astonishing announcement that Sarkozy’s obsession with “frontiers” just seemed to him a betrayal of French values, and that he was throwing his support to Hollande. Sarkozy’s political platform, he thundered, “is violent” and is “in contradiction with our values, but also those of Gaullism [the mainstream French right] as well as contradicting the values of the republican and social Right.” I am not and never will be, he said, a man of the left. He said he was sure he would be upbraiding Hollande for his spendthrift ways. But on the issue of republican values, he had to back Hollande.

Although he left them free to vote for whomever they liked, Bayrou threw about a third of his centrists’ vote to Hollande, or roughly 3% of those who went to the polls in the first round. Hollande won this round by 4%.

Only about a third of France’s roughly 4.5 million persons of Muslim descent (mainly North and West Africans) identify as Muslims. Only about 10 percent of Muslims are said to vote. So French Muslims are not flexing their electoral muscles yet in a meaningful way. Probably many more secular French voted against Sarkozy because of his odious language about immigrants than did Muslim-heritage French, in absolute numbers.

Sarkozy, by embracing the noxious language of hatred of immigrants and fear-mongering about secular Socialists spreading Muslim theocracy in the villages of France, failed to convince the hard right to vote for him but managed to alienate the center. Even MPs in his own party began speaking out against his having gone too far.

Of course, the kind of violent, anti-immigrant, and Muslim-hating language Sarkozy used is par for the course in the GOP in the US today. But aside from some Libertarians such as Ron Paul, where are the mainstream centrist Republicans who will openly denounce it? Who among Republicans recognizes that the sorts of things Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney say about a monolithic Muslim Caliphate menace are violent and contradictory to the values of the American Republic. Not to mention the things many of them say about Latino immigrants. Where is our Francois Bayrou?

Marine Le Pen Tells Jerusalem Post that Sarkozy has Encouraged ‘Fundamentalists’, Claims UOIF has Called for Murder of Jews

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on April 12, 2012 by loonwatch

 

(via. Islamophobia-Watch)

Marine Le Pen Tells Jerusalem Post that Sarkozy has Encouraged ‘Fundamentalists’, Claims UOIF has Called for Murder of Jews

Marine Le Pen, the National Front candidate for the French presidential election, accused rival President Nicolas Sarkozy of having sent “a simple message” when some Islamists were arrested on French territory, after French forces assaulted Mohamed Merah’s house last month. Le Pen was speaking at a press conference with foreign journalists in her campaign headquarters at Nanterre, west of Paris.

Responding to a question from The Jerusalem Post, following the surprising absence of mentions in electoral debates of the shootings in the southern French town of Toulouse, Le Pen criticized Sarkozy, calling his crackdown on Islamists “merely electoral agitation after the Merah affair.”

“A few arrested Islamists and that is all… [Sarkozy] is not dealing with the real problem of fundamentalism, although he has been in charge of national security for the past 10 years.” For Le Pen, Sarkozy, like his predecessors, “deliberately downplayed the threat from Islamists who want to see France as we know it disappear in favor of Shari’a.”

Going further, she accused her main rival for the voice of the right wing to have even “opened the door to the UOIF (militant Muslim organization in France) who called for the murder of Jews”. “He provided the first steps to the ladder for the fundamentalists in France and internationally,” she said.

Jerusalem Post, 12 April 2012

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Tells Sarkozy Not to Incite to Islamophobia

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on March 14, 2012 by loonwatch

Erdoğan takes a shot at Sarkozy’s crass populist antics:

PM tells Sarkozy not to incite to Islamophobia

(Today’s Zaman)

PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claimed on Tuesday that French President Nicolas Sarkozy is inciting racism and Islamophobia in France in order to get re-elected in the upcoming presidential elections. Erdoğan said resorting to xenophobia, particularly Islamophobia, to win elections is very irresponsible.

Depicting a recent bill Sarkozy’s center-right UMP initiated seeking to penalize the denial of Armenian claims of genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire in 1915 as an act inciting the French to xenophobia, Erdoğan said the current president adopted a more aggressive stance after the bill was passed into law but then overruled by the French Constitutional Council, which deemed it unconstitutional. Erdoğan said the council had corrected a historic mistake by cancelling the law.

Valerie Boyer, a deputy from the UMP, initiated the genocide bill criminalizing the denial of the so-called Armenian genocide in December 2011. The bill was approved in the lower house of the French Parliament and in the French Senate in January. However, the constitutional council deemed it unconstitutional, stating that it violated the freedom of expression.

“Sarkozy is making xenophobia a matter of domestic politics, and issuing threatening remarks against foreigners in his country. This is in violation of the EU’s universal values and fundamental principles,” Erdoğan said. The French presidential elections will take place between April and May.

France plans nation-wide Islam and secularism debate

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on February 17, 2011 by loonwatch

Maybe its time for Freedom fries again?

France plans nation-wide Islam and secularism debate

(Reuters)

France’s governing party plans to launch a national debate on the role of Islam and respect for French secularism among Muslims here, two issues emerging as major themes for the presidential election due next year.  Jean-François Copé, secretary general of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP party, said the debate would examine issues such as the financing and building of mosques, the contents of Friday sermons and the education of the imams delivering them.

The announcement, coming after a meeting of UMP legislators with Sarkozy on Wednesday, follows the president’s declaration last week that multiculturalism had failed in France. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron have made similar statements in recent months that were also seen as aimed at Muslim minorities there. France’s five-million strong Muslim minority is Europe’s largest.

Copé said the debate, due to start in early April, would ask “how to organise religious practice so that it is compatible in our country with the rules of our secular republic.”

UMP parliamentarians said Sarkozy told them they had to lead this debate to ensure it stays under control. The far-right National Front, reinvigorated with its new leader Marine Le Pen, has recently begun a campaign criticising Muslims here.

“Our party, and then parliament, must take on this subject,” they quoted Sarkozy as saying. “I don’t want prayers in the streets, or calls to prayer. We had a debate on the burqa and that was a good thing. We need to agree in principle about the place of religion in 2011.”

France has sought to keep religion out of the public sphere since it officially separated the Catholic Church and the state in 1905. The growth of a Muslim minority in recent decades has posed new challenges that lead to sometimes heated debates. The government banned headscarves in state schools in 2004 and outlawed full face veils in public last year. But there are no rules about halal meals in schools, for example, or whether Muslims can pray in the streets outside an overcrowded mosque.

The French government held a country-wide debate on national identity in 2009-2010 that preceded the full face veil ban. Many Muslims criticised the debate, saying it turned into a forum to stigmatise them and let people air biased views about Islam.

Marine Le Pen, daughter of National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, stole a march on the UMP in December when she compared Muslims praying in the streets to the wartime Nazi occupation. “Marine Le Pen is getting ratings higher than her father, so at 18 months before the presidential election, you can see why it’s getting urgent (for the UMP) to debate the place of Muslims in France and how they practice their religion,” said RTL radio commentator Marie-Bénédicte Allaire.

When journalists asked Copé if the UMP’s Islam debate would only give credence to Le Pen’s campaign, he said: “Marine Le Pen highlights problems but doesn’t work too much on solutions.”Copé said the UMP would invite “numerous civil and religious personalities (for) broad debates about this absolutely major question. It would be wrong not to deal with this.”

According to the daily Le Figaro, Sarkozy asked the UMP deputies for concrete suggestions within a few months for solving disputed issues about religion in the public sphere.

According to a 2009 Gallup poll, 80 percent of French Muslims said they were loyal to France, but 56 percent of the general public doubted their Muslim neighbours were loyal to the country.

 

“Un-French” Veil Debate?

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2010 by loonwatch

burka_france

It seems to be a day of questions, is the veil so threatening that it requires a parliamentary inquiry when only 400 or so wear it in the entire country? Is it so vital an issue as to be the top agenda for Sarkozy and his party when there are other pressing problems facing the country such as the Economy, troops in Afghanistan, and the restive Suburbs? Maybe it is very French to bicker and abuse a minority and waste time when other things are more pressing, but when will the line be drawn as to what is French and what isn’t?

Parliamentary Inquiry Condemns Veil as ‘Un-French’

The Islamic full-body veil should be banned from French public offices, hospitals, trains and buses, according to a parliamentary investigation which reported yesterday. In a bad-tempered final session, the committee of inquiry angered many members of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling centre-right party by rejecting their demands for an outright ban on the burka or niqab. After a muddled and heated six-month investigation, the committee decided that such a ban might be declared unconstitutional under French and European law.

Instead, a narrow majority of the 32 members accepted a compromise suggested by Mr Sarkozy and the Prime Minister, François Fillon. They called for a solemn, but unenforceable, parliamentary motion declaring the full-length veil – a marginal but growing phenomenon in France – to be “un-French”. They said that this should be followed soon by a law forbidding people to cover their faces in “official” public spaces, from hospitals to post offices.

The committee’s recommendation split the ruling Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP) down the middle. The party’s parliamentary leader, Jean-François Cope, immediately announced that he would push ahead with his own draft law calling for an outright ban. Officially, Socialist MPs boycotted the final meeting of the inquiry, alleging that it had been “polluted” by party politics and hijacked by “faction fighting” within the UMP. Several leading socialist politicians defied the boycott, however, and support an outright ban.

The possibility of a law against the full-length veil was first raised last summer by a Communist MP.

Independent, 16 January 2010

There is a great article, a must read by Raphaël Liogier,

France’s Attack on the Veil is a Huge Blunder

After more than six months straining to convince itself of the immense, nationwide danger of a phenomenon that involves fewer than 0.1% of France’s Muslim population, a parliamentary committee yesterday ­recommended the banning of the full veil in many of France’s public places. There is nothing eccentric about asking why they are getting so bothered.

As usual, when France confronts such debates, a panoply of intellectuals, politicians and artists gasp their indignation over an alleged assault on “our values”, wheeling out their rhetorical big guns to denounce the “philosophical scandal” of refusing to show one’s face publicly.

We have been systematically treated to five justifications, all hammered home with the aim of getting the full veil banned for good: the feminist, the theological, the humanistic, the ­securitarian and, finally, the prophylactic. None of these justifications has been convincing. For a start, the vast majority of women concerned have clearly actively chosen to wear the veil, sometimes in the face of opposition from their family. Moreover, many see their veils as a means of expressing independence, even sometimes as a vehicle of feminine empowerment.

In the 70s, Muslim women who had recently arrived from north Africa were often kept behind suburban doors by the heavy-handed control of their ­husbands. Sometimes they were forced to wear the veil, but we hardly gave a damn. But, paradoxically, once the veil had emerged as a voluntary item during the 80s, visibly flaunted in the street by a new generation of determined young Frenchwomen, concern began to rise. Pseudo-feminist rhetoric cannot conceal the fact that it is indeed the voluntary veil which is being fought, and not the imposed article.

As to the second, theological justification, it is almost laughable to see members of the government and the president himself pompously arguing that such a veil is not truly Muslim, as if more knowledgeable than the Muslims themselves about the orthodox prescriptions of their own lifestyle. A peculiar facet of so-called French secularism sees government ministers assuming the fashionable role of imams.

Others will opine that one cannot be a true citizen if one hides one’s face, because one is thus refusing human interaction. Yet some people wear dark glasses out of shyness or pure ­obnoxiousness, and nobody would think of denying them their right to humanity. The security-based objection, requiring one to bare one’s face in order to have the right to pick up one’s children from school, for instance, or if so required by a police patrol, is legitimate in the abstract, but only if one conveniently forgets the fact that in practice, the new generation of women – among the many we have surveyed – do not in fact refuse to comply.

It is no coincidence that the debate on French national identity is ­occurring simultaneously, for they are ­tactically complementary – picking on Muslim women, or Muslims in general, or all immigrants, as scapegoats, so we can avoid facing our current symbolic crisis. The French are confronted every day with the declining influence of their language, art and cinema – moreover the “grey panther” generation is realising that their own children could not care less, deeply enmeshed as they are in the globalisation of culture.

To compensate for such losses, people over 40 are to be heard chanting mantras about the importance of French universal values and pointing fingers at those guilty of threatening them from inside France. In fact, they are thus digging into a deep narcissistic wound, their helplessness facing globalisation and the waning of the “French exception”, driving them blindly to trash our most sacred fundamental values while pretending to defend them.

Whatever form the committee’s recommendation takes in law or decree, it will probably not be enforced, but a symbolic gesture, and a symbol of capitulation. The French Republic has become so weak, so morally corrupted, that it is ready to kick over its most cherished principles: liberty, equality, fraternity, on the part of the political elite, out of cynicism and petty tactics; on the part of the general public, out of irrational panic, even hatred for Muslims. In any case, those women concerned, in the case of a ban, will either refuse to discard a garment that they feel does no harm to anybody, go underground at home, becoming still more economically dependent on their families, or obey – but with a desperate feeling of frustration making them vulnerable to recruitment by Islamist groups.

The worst about all this fuss is that we are completely off target. Women ­donning the full veil are not against modernity but represent rather its sophisticated product, just like ­westernised Buddhists. The veil, ­surprising as this may seem, is good news for modern values. Some smart young women keep a niqab in their bag but only wear it in Paris’s Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, in order to draw attention to the fact that they belong to the best Muslim set, that they really have got that Muslim chic, something like the equivalent ­behaviour in a gay district. This deep western social movement is no threat to modern values, but rather vindicates the ­latter under unexpected aesthetic guise: it is so ­individualistic and depoliticised that it is more of a real threat for Islamism and terrorist ­networks themselves.

It is a massive blunder to fight this new, ultra-modern Islam. And it is not only France that is heading towards a colossal error of understanding – ­politically capable of spinning into ­historic ­proportions – but also Europe, the United States, and all the other ­post-industrial countries, blinkered by Islamophobia, who turn out to be ­incapable of catching up on their own deep cultural changes and recognising their own best interests. It is a kind of collective, ­generational jet lag.