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IN THE PRESS

An overview of the stories making the French and international newspaper headlines. From Monday to Friday live at 7.20 am and 9.20 am Paris time.

Latest update : 2009-12-09

Controversy over Sarkozy’s stand on national identity

FRENCH PRESS REVIEW: France’s Immigration Minister recently called for a debate on French national identity. Yesterday, Nicolas Sarkozy made his views on the matter known in Le Monde. His article has divided France’s newspapers along predictable lines.

Sarkozy wrote a column in yesterday’s Le Monde about national identity and the relations with Muslims. This morning’s editorials react in quite a varying manner. For the right-leaning Le Figaro, Sarkozy’s article was positive. He avoided the habitual hypocrisy which marks the public discussion of integration and national identity. It was Sarkozy after all who set up the French Council for the Muslim Faith (CFCM) which took Islam out of its clandestine place in French society, the paper notes.

The paper praises Sarkozy’s recognition of France having ‘Christian roots’. This again is honest and avoids hypocrisy, says Le Figaro.

For left-leaning Libération, the speech was full of niceties on the surface but the use of terms such as ‘ceux qui arrivent’ – those who arrive (in France) – is implicitly discriminatory. Muslims contributed to France’s efforts in WW1 and WW2. Muslims helped rebuild France from the 1940s onwards. Most Muslims in France were born here and never ‘arrived’ from anywhere else, the paper says.

Meanwhile the communist paper l’Humanité is even more damning, saying the speech showed dangerous strains of neo-nationalism.

Other stories in today's French papers:

Le Parisien
French champions of bad driving

Le Figaro
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By James CREEDON

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