In his first interview with with the French Media, President Obama notes his close friendship with French President Nicholas Sarkozy and his motivations for attempting a better dialogue between East and West. Obama adds that the United States is home to many Muslims, and therefore there is national interest for such dialogue. While bemoaning his terrible French, Obama cites many of the things in France, especially from Provence, that Americans love like the cuisine and the wine.
National Front vice-president Marine Le Pen has offered her reflections on what President Nicholas Sarkozy has termed “positive secularism.” On the occasion of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to France, Le Pen noted, “I have battled against positive secularism, but for reasons other than those I have seen in the newspapers in the last few days.” Le Pen adds that Sarkozy has sought to place Islam on equal footing with Islam, but that “Islam is not on par for historic reasons, it has been given a lot of attention because of the massive immigration to France in the last 30 years.” Le Pen believes that this interpretation of secularism works to bolster Islam in France to the detriment of others.
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France fell just short of a target to deport 25,000 illegal immigrants in 2007, according to figures released by Immigration Minister Brice Hortefeux. French authorities deported an estimated 23,000-24,000 immigrants, as part of a controversial clampdown first launched when President Nicholas Sarkozy was interior minister. Several rights groups including Amnesty International have protested against the campaign to meet deportation quotas, citing that many of those at risk are already well integrated into French society.