by WorldTribune Staff, October 13, 2016
“Nobody doubts” the fact that France “has a problem with Islam,” French President Francois Hollande told the authors of a new book.
In the book, titled “A President Shouldn’t Say This…,” the Socialist president also said there is “too much” unwanted immigration in the country.
“I think there are too many arrivals, of immigration that shouldn’t be there,” Hollande told the authors, investigative journalists Gerard David and Fabrice Lhomme, over the course of 61 sit-down interviews.
“It’s not Islam itself that poses a problem for being a religion that is dangerous for the Republic but because it wants to assert itself as a religion inside the French Republic,” Hollande said.
Asked about the French national identity and the Muslim veil, Hollande responded: “The veiled woman of today will become France’s Marianne [national icon] of tomorrow.”
That comment was interpreted by some as the French president suggesting that the national symbol may become a woman in a burka, but Hollande said what he meant was that he wanted to see Muslim women “free” from the veil.
“If we manage to provide the right conditions for her to flourish she will free herself from her veil and become French, while still remaining a believer if she wants to be, capable of carrying forth an ideal,” he says.
“Ultimately, what bet are we making? It is that this woman will prefer freedom to slavery, that the veil can be a form of protection for her but that tomorrow she won’t need it to feel reassurance about her presence in society.”
Laurent Wauquiez, interim president of the opposition center-Right Republicans party, said the comment showed Hollande was “willing to barter this symbol of the French Republic for political Islam.”
“This is taking as a given the idea of selling off on the cheap the most powerful symbols of the French Republic,” Waequiez said.
Hollande also blasted his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, as a money-obsessed “little De Gaulle” full of “vulgarity, meanness and cynicism.” Sarkozy is again running for the presidency in the 2017 election.
Despite the criticism of his predecessor, Hollande says he would have no qualms voting for Sarkozy next year should he end up in a run-off with Marine Le Pen, the far-Right Front National leader.
Hollande, who polls show is the least popular French president in modern history, told the authors he feels like “the ghost of the Elysée” but that he has not ruled out running for re-election next spring, asking: “Is there anyone on the Left who can do better?”
Francois Bayrou, head of the centrist Modem party, said of Hollande: “One wants to ask when will he stop confessing? And above all, when will he start getting on with the job!”