Hortefeux Publicly Apologizes to French Muslim Community

While he has not apologized for what he said (see: http://www.euro-islam.info/2009/09/11/france%e2%80%99s-interior-minister-accused-of-derogatory-comment-to-arab-man/), the French minister of the interior Brice Hortefeux explained at a breaking of fast with the CFCM (the French Council of the Muslim Faith or the Conseil français du culte musulman) that he regrets the unfair polemic that ensued following his comments last week. He noted that “Islamophobia cannot be accepted in our country” and that the French Republic must be “more than ever, a school of tolerance and dignity. It’s a daily combat that I will take up.”

Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the CFCM commented that Hortefeux is “an interlocuteur who has always been respectful of our community.”

France’s Interior Minister Accused of Derogatory Comment To Arab Man

France’s interior minister sparked a storm of protest and accusations of racism after a video showed him making an apparently derogatory joke about French citizens of Arab origin. “When there’s one, it’s OK,” Brice Hortefeux, a key minister in President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government, said in the film posted on Le Monde newspaper’s site that rapidly became an online hit on a host of video websites. “It’s when there are a lot of them that there are problems,” he said in the film Le Monde said shows him getting ready to pose for a photo with a young man from France’s large community of Arab origin.

The young activist told the media that the minister’s comments had been taken out of context.
“It’s disgraceful. I am Arab but he completely respected me, it wasn’t at all out of place. And I do not consider that it was a blunder,” said the man, who was not named by the newspaper. Prime Minister Francois Fillon stepped into the row to stand by his interior minister, declaring that Hortefeux “was the “victim of a fairly scandalous campaign of defamation.” Hortefeux was immigration minister from 2007 until early this year. Many have called for his resignation over the matter.