Will Eric Zemmour's Islamophobia win him the French presidency? - TAHA KILINÇ

Will Eric Zemmour's Islamophobia win him the French presidency?

A book that hit the shelves in the French capital, Paris, on September 8, 2016, deals with topics that this particular author loves to touch upon, such as identity, Islam and the war of civilizations.


The author, who insists on the need to protect “French identity” in such stark terms, says the following in his book: “If tomorrow 20-30 million French Muslims begin to cover their wives and apply sharia laws, then only a dictatorship can protect the minimum of secular rules. Only a dictatorship can protect a country where Muslims are rapidly growing, from the persecution of Islam.”


The author of the book in question, Eric Zemmour, built his journalistic career, which he began in 1986, on his hostility towards the presence of Muslims in France. He always made sure to bring up this point in television debates in which he appeared as well as in the articles he penned, warning the French public of the so-called "great danger" they face.


A few days after the publication of his book, Zemmour criticized Rachida Dati, a French politician of North African descent (the daughter of a Moroccan father and an Algerian mother), who served as Minister of Justice during the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy.


"Families who give their children Islamic names, refuse to adopt French culture," said Zemmour, who in 2009 was highly critical of Dati naming her daughter “Zahra.” Yet Dati stood for all that Zemmour had branded "French culture": she had educated in Catholic schools as a child, had no practical ties to Islam, and had given birth to her daughter out of wedlock. Zahra's father was famous French casino mogul Dominique Dessin.


While Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment sometimes caused minor upheavals during his career (his job as a commentator on iTELE was terminated in 2014 due to his racist remarks in an Italian newspaper), Eric Zemmour was an opportunist who nicely capitalized on the xenophobic tendencies of French society.


None of the fishing rods he threw came back empty, and each time the day’s catch was more plentiful than before. Nowadays we see him among the most ambitious candidates for the French presidential elections whose first round will take place on April 10, 2022. He’s also campaigning using the same racist, anti-Islam and xenophobic discourse...


Two weeks ago, Eric Zemmour reiterated his insistence that headscarves and the niqab should be banned in an interview with French radio. "Great reformers such as Bourguiba and Nasser in the Arab world removed women’s veils," Zemmour said, stressing that the veil "occupies the visual scene," and added, "I will never allow a visual or real invasion of France." Zemmour had previously gone viral after promising to ban French parents from naming their sons "Mohammed."


Habib Bourguiba, one of the Arab leaders praised by Zemmour, was the president of Tunisia between 1956-1987. Bourguiba, who completed his higher education in Paris, took his French girlfriend Mathilde and their son Jean-Claude, born out of wedlock, with him when he returned home as a lawyer.


Bourguiba, who later entered politics and ascended to the administration of the country, left bitter memories in the minds of Tunisians with the Jacobin French secular practices he imposed on the Muslim people during his over thirty-year rule in Tunisia. Another name that Zemmour praised is Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who never attempted to ban the headscarf.


The most ridiculous element in the story of Eric Zemmour, who is known for his xenophobia, is that he himself hails from an immigrant family. Zemmour's parents, who took refuge in France from Algeria in the 1950s, are Jewish.


There are allegations that the family's origins date all the way back to the Sephardic Jews who were exiled from Spain by Catholic Christians in 1492. Because it is no secret that a sizable part of the exiled Jews who spread across North Africa settled in modern day Algeria.


If this claim about the Zemmour family is indeed true, then this whole story is about to get even more interesting: the bratty son of a family that was once expelled from Europe by Catholics, seeks the presidency in a country where Catholicism prevails today, and fans the flames of racism to achieve this goal...

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