News agencies – October 7, 2012
First he lambasted “anti-white racism”, now an outspoken right-wing French politician has set his sights on the Muslim community as he seeks to become the heir to Nicolas Sarkozy. Jean Francois Copé, who is bidding to become leader of the centre right UMP party, a position once held by Sarkozy, showed on Friday that he is not afraid to court controversy. At a meeting in the southern town of Draguignan, Copé lamented the state of some neighbourhoods in France’s cities, and in doing so launched a thinly veiled snipe at Islam.
Copé’s inflammatory comments come not long after he was accused of stirring up tensions, when he expressed his dismay over the growing “anti-white racism” in France’s cities. On both occasions the brazen Copé was accused of trying to court the far right vote in his bid to beat rival François Fillon to become head of the UMP in next month’s election. Leaders of France’s Muslim community also slammed Copé for his remarks.
“These types of accusations are easy to make,” said Abdallah Zekri, president of the French Observatory against Islamophobia. “He wants to please the extremists in his party and as usual he attacks Muslims and young people”.