Sarkozy looks to appeal to the far right over immigration

 

French president Nicolas Sarkozy, seeking support from the far right as he fights an uphill battle for a second term, said today that his country has too many immigrants and is failing to integrate them.

With all polls pointing to a victory in Sunday's presidential run-off election for Socialist challenger Francois Hollande, conservative Mr Sarkozy is hoping to win over the more than six million voters who supported far right leader Marine Le Pen in the first round

Ms Le Pen was leading her anti-immigrant National Front's traditional May 1 march in Paris today, and promised to announce how she wants her voters to cast their ballots for the run-off.

Mr Sarkozy was holding a campaign rally of his own where he was expected to reach out to the far right.

In a radio interview today, he was asked if France has too many immigrants, and answered: “Yes.

“Our system of integration doesn't work. Why? Because before we were able to integrate those who were received on our territory, others arrived. Having taken in too many people, we paralysed our system of integration.

“I will never argue for zero immigration, but the reality is that when you invite more people than you can handle, you no longer integrate them.”

While Mr Sarkozy has flattered Ms Le Pen by borrowing some of her rhetoric on immigrants and Muslims, she says the current president is already a has-been.

She appears to be hoping that Mr Hollande wins and she can then emerge as the face of the political opposition. Her deputy has said he will cast a blank ballot out of protest.

In response, a new effort is being made to mobilise French Muslims to vote.

Imams and Islamic associations are calling on Muslims to do their duty as citizens and go to the polls.

And while they are not officially endorsing anyone, the call is a bold move in a country where statistics on religious affiliation are formally banned and where secularism is enshrined in the constitution.

Mr Hollande is more likely to benefit from the get-out-the-vote push, because Mr Sarkozy has spoken out against Muslim practices in his campaign and experts say that Muslims in poor neighbourhoods and Muslim youth tend to vote for the left.

But the Muslim vote is diverse, and there is no guarantee that the push will bring out voters, since Muslims have tended in the past to avoid politics.

French Muslims have blamed throughout the campaign for what they eat (halal meat), how they pray (in the street), and for allegedly using their growing numbers to supplant France's civilisation with their own.

The massacre of Jewish schoolchildren and French paratroopers by an alleged Islamic extremist in March put Muslims in the spotlight again and fed far-right fear-mongering.

Ms Le Pen ran an anti-immigration and anti-Europe campaign and sowed fears that France is being Islamicised. She came a strong third in the April 22 first-round vote.

Although she was eliminated, her 18% score was a historic high for her National Front party. For some Muslim religious leaders, it is time to act.

The more than five million Muslims in France - the largest such population in western Europe - could potentially prove a decisive weight for or against a candidate.

Secularism expert Jean Bauberot said: “In the current atmosphere, Nicolas Sarkozy is doing all he can to alienate the Muslim electorate.

“When they (imams) say go out and vote, people think ... you shouldn't vote for Sarkozy.”

Mr Sarkozy has walked both sides of the line in addressing Muslims.

While campaigning, he has spoken out against Muslim prayers in the street, the multiplication of halal butchers and the immigrant flux, in France seen as mainly Muslim.

But he embraced the Muslim population at the start of his term in 2007, appointing two ministers of Muslim North African origin and working for an Islam of France.

AP

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam