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June 13, 2016
The two leading contenders to be the mainstream right’s candidate in next year’s French presidential election have clashed over France’s relations with its Muslim population. After former president Nicolas Sarkozy denounced the “tyranny of minorities” in a speech last week, his chief rival, Alain Juppé, warned that judging Islam incompatible with the nation’s values would lead to civil war.
Although Sarkozy has not yet officially declared his candidacy, few doubt that he will stand in the forthcoming primary of his Republicans party and the press judged a speech he made in northern France last week to be a key step in his campaign.
“In the years ahead what will be left of France?” he asked a hall that was only half full, although with some 40 MPs in attendance. “That’s the first challenge. The greatest. The most fundamental.”
The former president called on the French people to “wake up” to defend the national identity in the face of the “abdication of the elites”.
A “tyranny of minorities” is “forcing the republic further into retreat each day”, he went on, declaring France to be a “Christian country” that must be “respected … by those who wish to live in it.”
Those minorities include demonstrating school students, militant environmentalists, vandals on demonstrations and a “handful of radical Islamists”, who left-wing multiculturalists have allowed to dictate that individual rights take precedence over “rules that should hold for all”, Sarkozy said.
Then he took a sideswipe at Juppé.
The “new ruling ideology” has infected some on the right, Sarkozy claimed.
“It has struck surreptitiously, singing the sweet melody of ‘sensible accomodations’,” – a reference to his Juppé’s call for dialogue with French Muslims and integration of immigrants rather than the more thoroughgoing assimilation that Sarkozy has called for.
Juppé, a former prime minister who is now mayor of Bordeaux, hit back on Sunday on his blog and on television, calling for “diversity in unity.”
“I don’t want an identity that is unhappy, fearful, anxious, almost neurotic,” he wrote on his blog. “For me identity doesn’t mean exclusion or rejection of the other”, pointing out that all the French “do not have the same origins, the same skin color, the same religion or beliefs” and declaring this “a treasure, a strength.”
On the TF1 TV channel Juppé declared that there are “two possible attitudes” to Islam in France.
“If one considers that Islam is by definition incompatible, insoluble with the republic, that means civil war,” he warned, advocating a “reading of the Koran and a practice of the religion that is compatible with the laws of the republic”, including the equality of men and women.
Juppé has spoken out against Sarkozy’s calls for extending the ban on the Muslim hijab now in force in schools to universities and banning of halal alternative meals in school canteens.
His earlier calls for tolerance have led to a hate campaign on social media, Juppé said.
“They call me ‘Ali Juppé’, described as the Grand Mufti of Bordeaux, they are writing everywhere that I’m spending a fortune of financing a huge mosque in Bordeaux, which doesn’t exist and will not exist,” he told TF1.
In reality, he has called for changes to some Muslims’ behavior, calling for imams to preach in French and to have degrees in French history and laws, and wants a special police force to monitor radicalization in France’s prisons.
The row is a sign that Sarkozy will return to attacking “communitarism” during the Republicans primary and the presidential campaign, as he did in the 2007 and 2012 campaigns, in part inspired by Patrick Buisson, a hard-right journalist who pushed him to bid for National Front votes.
Last week’s speech was partly written by Camille Pascal, a contributor to the hard-right magazine Valeurs Actuelles and was hailed by some of his allies as an attempt to engage Juppé on terrain that Sarkozy considers favorable to himself.
Although opinion polls show Juppé the most popular candidate for the presidency among the general public at the moment, he first has to convince the right-wing faithful to adopt him as candidate.
Whoever is chosen will want to attract voters tempted by the National Front in the first round of the presidential election and, according to the polls, could face the far-right party’s Marine Le Pen in a second round that is likely to provide evidence of the rejection of the political establishment that has affected much of the world recently.
National Front vice-president Louis Aliot weighed into the debate on Monday, declaring that there is a “problem of accountability between the religion [of Islam] in itself and the republic’s laws” and calling on Muslims to “adapt to republican rules.”
President Morsi has failed. The divided nation now needs real dialogue. The majority of Egyptians is against a theological state, says diplomat and political analyst Ashraf Swelam
Egypt is more divided than ever before. You don’t have to be a genius to recognize this fact. And yet, President Mohammed Morsi has not comprehended the situation. Nor has the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, nor have their allies from the Salafi camp. And this is despite Morsi having won the country’s first presidential election with only a slim majority.
After the election, Morsi’s most pressing task was to unite the divided country and act as the president of all Egyptians. This is what he had promised. Yet, without batting an eyelid, he did exactly the opposite. He thereby contributed to the growth of a deep-seated and earnest aversion felt by many Egyptians to the Muslim brotherhood.
And, time and again, he has bowed down before Egypt’s so-called “deep state”, the impenetrable web made up of the military, security forces, and bureaucrats. He has even taken up common cause with them, instead of taking revolutionary forces on board to help breathe new life into the severely weakened country.
July 24, 2011
Members of ANELD (L’Association nationale des élus locaux de la diversité), an advocacy group representing elected local officials from ethnic and religious minorities, have stated that it’s time for France to compile statistics on its ethnically diverse population. The organization deals with issues related to ethnic diversity in France, including employment, equal rights and discrimination. Ethnic statistics are forbidden by the country’s constitution and frowned upon as a way of forcing people to identify with a set ethnic group. However, critics say these numbers are necessary given the country’s increasingly diverse ethnic landscape.
It is not the first time the issue has arisen over the past decade. The controversy over ethnic statistics last surfaced in 2009, when French President Nicolas Sarkozy appointed the Committee for the Measurement of Diversity, arguing that efforts to help minorities were hampered by a lack of data, and that he wanted to find a way to “measure the diversity of society.”
Members of ANELD are due to meet with the French commissioner for equal opportunities, Yazid Sabeg, to discuss a possible census. They say they plan to raise the issue of discrimination as a major topic in France’s forthcoming presidential election.
April 20, 2011
Two-thirds of French people see the integration of immigrants into France as a failure and most believe the fault lies with the immigrants, an opinion poll showed on Wednesday. In the poll by Harris Interactive, published in the daily Le Parisien, 66% of respondents said immigrants had adapted badly to life in France and just over half felt the situation had worsened in the past ten years.
More than three quarters of the sample group said immigrants had not made enough of an effort to adapt to French society, according to the poll, carried out between April 8-10 among 1,631 people from all political backgrounds. Anxiety about immigrants in general and Muslims in particular has featured prominently in early campaigning for the 2012 presidential election in France, home to Europe’s largest Muslim population, estimated at five to six million according to the Interior Ministry.
According to a poll by the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections, an estimated 89 percent of Muslim Americans voted for Barack Obama in the Nov. 4 2008 presidential elections. Just two percent of Muslim voters cast their ballot for John McCain. Of the 637 people polled on the election, the economy was the most important issue (63 percent), while 13 percent said that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were of the utmost importance to them.
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An article by Newsweek describes and follows the connection between ‘Muslim’ and the 2008 US presidential election, from fabrications concerning president-elect Obama’s religious background to the rise in Muslims working on the campaign and surge in Muslim support for Barack Obama.
In this election, many Muslim Americans changed their party affiliation from Republican to Democratic – a stark change from the strong Muslim support for George Bush in 2000. Today, more than 2/3 of Muslim Americans consider themselves to be Democrats, while just four percent see themselves as Republican.
A major rift and shift occurred as many Muslim Americans became subject to wiretapping, mishandling of civil liberties, religious, ethnic, and racial profiling, in addition to mounting concerns over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. With an estimated 89 percent of Muslim Americans voting for Obama, many cite him as the American every-person, the quintessential American mutt with veins to a pluralistic and diverse background that many in the diverse Muslim American community can relate to.
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New York Times video coverage of Muslim voting in 2008 presidential election.
Participating for the first time in debates linked to the presidential campaign, the representatives of French Muslims regrouped under the French Council for the Muslim Religion (CFCM) are worried. They would like to meet the candidates for the presidential election to express their worries about the politicized way in which the debate over French Islam is used in the electoral race.
In a recent communication, the French Muslim Council (CFCM), whose charge is to address only questions linked expressly to religious practice, seemed to refuse the French political parties the right to criticize or even to address the question of French Islam with regards to the presidential election.