Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

WEB NEWS

Chile: online mobilization to help Valparaiso fire victims

Read more

FACE-OFF

François Hollande: France's most unpopular president

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Mansouria Mokhefi, Middle East and North Africa specialist

Read more

LIFESTYLES

Sustainable cuisine

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Google Was Making A Space Elevator And A Hoverboard, But Couldn't Get Them To Work

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

A bitter pill to swallow

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

USA: Boston remembers Marathon bombings

Read more

DOWN TO EARTH

DR Congo's reconciliation farm

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Investors take fright over Google results

Read more

  • Wheelchair-bound Bouteflika votes in Algerian election

    Read more

  • Films by four French directors short-listed for Cannes' top prize

    Read more

  • Pro-Russian separatists killed in attack on Black Sea base

    Read more

  • After cup defeat, Spanish pundits read last rites for Barcelona

    Read more

  • Frantic search for survivors of sunken South Korea ferry

    Read more

  • India heads to polls in single largest day of voting

    Read more

  • Man executed in Texas for 2002 triple murder

    Read more

  • Scandal-hit French doctor Jacques Servier dies at 92

    Read more

  • Belgian head of wildlife reserve shot in DR Congo

    Read more

  • Crunch talks on Ukraine begin in Geneva

    Read more

  • Stagehand of God? Maradona's legendary goal inspires a play

    Read more

  • US rolls out red carpet for French critic of capitalism

    Read more

  • N. Korea not amused by London hair salon's Kim Jong-un ad

    Read more

  • Real Madrid beat old foes Barcelona to lift Copa del Rey

    Read more

  • France's new PM targets welfare in drive to cut spending

    Read more

  • Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

    Read more

  • Brazil club Mineiro cancel Anelka signing after no-show

    Read more

  • Syria 'torture' photos silence UN Security Council members

    Read more

  • Paris laboratory loses deadly SARS virus samples

    Read more

  • More than 100 schoolgirls kidnapped in northeast Nigeria

    Read more

  • New York police disband unit targeting Muslims

    Read more

  • 'Miracle girl' healthy after seven-organ transplant in Paris

    Read more

  • Paris police memo calling for Roma eviction ‘rectified’

    Read more

  • Burgundy digs into France's bureaucratic 'mille-feuille'

    Read more

France

Swiss minaret vote reveals concern over identity, says Sarkozy

©

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-12-09

In a column in French daily Le Monde on Tuesday, President Nicolas Sarkozy denied that the Swiss ban on minarets was evidence that national identity debates, such as the one promoted by his government, risked fuelling racism.

REUTERS - French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Switzerland's vote to ban new minarets showed why it was vital for France to hold an extended debate on national identity despite criticism that it has only fuelled racist views.

In a column in the daily Le Monde on Tuesday, Sarkozy defended the Swiss referendum against widespread criticism in France, saying it had laid bare fears of a loss of identity that should not be ignored.

"Instead of condemning the Swiss out of hand, we should try to understand what they meant to express and what so many people in Europe feel, including people in France," he wrote.

"Nothing would be worse than denial."

Critics say a national debate launched by his government risks exacerbating tensions with the country's large Muslim and immigrant population and panders to far-right voters in the run up to regional elections in March.

Sarkozy said integration meant a mutual acceptance by both new arrivals and the existing population of what each could bring the other while respecting certain fundamental standards.

France has seen repeated episodes highlighting concerns over integrating immigrants from its Muslim former colonies in North and West Africa -- the latest controversy centring on whether to ban all-covering burqas to be worn in public.

Sarkozy highlighted the defence of national identity in his 2007 election campaign and pressed for the public debate that is due to end in February with a list of proposals.

The opposition Socialists have also been wary about leaving the issue entirely to Sarkozy's centre-right UMP party and the far-right National Front and some on the left have cautiously joined the debate.

Sarkozy said he would fight any form of discrimination against Muslims in France, but added that they had to adapt themselves to the values of France's secular Republic and its strict neutrality in religious matters.

Without renouncing its values, Islam in France would have "to find in itself the paths by which it will include itself without conflicting with our social and civic pact," he wrote.

He said the question of identity had come to the fore in an era of globalisation that had both shaken up long-held values and increased the need for a feeling of belonging to a group.

"This dull threat that so many people in our old European nations feel, rightly or wrongly, hanging over their national identity, we have to talk about it together lest repressing this feeling ends up feeding a terrible bitterness," he wrote.

Date created : 2009-12-08

  • FRANCE

    Immigration minister launches nationwide debate on 'national identity'

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)