French Conservative Defends Himself
Those French liberals, soft on Iraq and soft on their Muslims, are getting their comeuppance from Islamic terrorists as the "clash of civilizations" arrives at chez Chirac.
So say some readers of this blog in written comments on the spread of rioting in France. In fact, the reality is quite different.
The explosion of violence in France has taken place after four years of "zero-tolerance" law enforcement policies of France's two leading conservatives, Prime Minister Dominique Villepin and Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. Their strategy has included measures that U.S. conservatives would probably look on with favor, including tighter visa controls, curfews, and police checkpoints in crime-ridden neighborhoods.
In the French media, the right-wing politicians are not criticizing the out-of-power left but calling on the country to "stay the course" with its get-tough policies, as French news survey in The Guardian shows.
"I defend [this strategy] not because it is 'rightwing', but because it is the only one that is proven to work," writes Sarkozy in today's issue of Le Monde. "Those who deny this on purely ideological grounds have short memories... We have reduced crime by almost 8% since 2002 and we recorded 17% fewer crimes in October 2005 than in October 2001."
"The police presence in the suburbs is vital. The police are the republic's police. They keep order in the republic. If they don't do it, who will replace them? Mafias or fundamentalists... I am not confusing these vandals and the law-abiding majority of people who live in these suburbs and who only want to make a success out of their lives, and the French can count on the total determination of the government," Sarkozy wrote.
The problem is that some Americans assume all French politicians must be social liberals because a solid majority of the country opposed the Iraq war. But Sarkozy is among the most pro-American of French politicians. (As an ambitious immigrant from Eastern Europe, he spoke approvingly of the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger.) Villepin, Sarkozy's boss and rival for leadership of the French right, is remembered by Americans as the voice of French opposition to the invasion of Iraq. But in domestic politics, he is on the right. Villepin implemented many of the "zero tolerance" policies when he served as Interior Minister in 2004.
L'Humanite, newspaper of the French communist party says "Sarkozy's arrogance evidently has no limits."
"Questioned on television about his attitude to the crisis, the interior minister declared calmly: 'I don't have the right to overreact. Nothing can be achieved by agitation and tension. The most difficult thing for me is to stay lucid, to get out of the cauldron and to find the time to reflect on what should be done.' Get out of the cauldron? If only he could! After having deliberately lit the fuse, he happily surveys the damage, and wants time to think about it," says the left-wing daily.
Figaro blames both left and right for 40 years of "political failure." The government has failed to follow through on spending for run-down suburbs while offering soothing speeches treating immigrants "as victims rather than responsible citizens," says the center-right daily.
In a survey of German commentary, Spiegel Online notes that most online media in that country "steer well clear of 'clash of civilizations' style coverage." German pundits say France aflame shows Europe must find better way to integrate immigrants into its society.
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: Sully | November 8, 2005 09:25 AM
Posted by: Bruno | November 8, 2005 10:10 AM
Posted by: candide | November 8, 2005 10:59 AM
Posted by: candide | November 8, 2005 11:02 AM
Posted by: candide | November 8, 2005 11:03 AM
Posted by: candide | November 8, 2005 11:04 AM
Posted by: candide | November 8, 2005 11:06 AM
Posted by: adp | November 8, 2005 11:24 AM
Posted by: Sully | November 8, 2005 11:42 AM
Posted by: agilb884 | November 8, 2005 11:52 AM
Posted by: Sandra | November 8, 2005 12:26 PM
Posted by: diana | November 8, 2005 12:34 PM
Posted by: Tomboy | November 8, 2005 01:30 PM
Posted by: Ponyboy | November 8, 2005 01:34 PM
Posted by: Jerry | November 8, 2005 02:45 PM
Posted by: Rob | November 8, 2005 05:30 PM
Posted by: Fidel C. | November 8, 2005 06:07 PM
Posted by: Mark | November 8, 2005 06:47 PM
Posted by: Bruno | November 8, 2005 06:55 PM
Posted by: Mark | November 8, 2005 08:08 PM
Posted by: Bill | November 9, 2005 04:07 PM
Posted by: Darwin Finch | November 9, 2005 05:38 PM
Posted by: Darwin Finch | November 9, 2005 05:48 PM
Posted by: James Bearhill | November 9, 2005 06:11 PM
Posted by: Karim | November 11, 2005 09:53 AM
Posted by: Karim | November 11, 2005 10:05 AM
Posted by: Karim | November 11, 2005 10:46 AM
Posted by: melody | November 11, 2005 03:31 PM
Posted by: Karim | November 11, 2005 05:27 PM
Posted by: Bruno | November 15, 2005 10:26 AM
The comments to this entry are closed.