A French centre-right politician has come under fire for arguing that France is a “white race” country and that immigrants, particularly Muslims, are only welcome if they are willing to adapt. Nadine Morano, a former minister under Nicolas Sarkozy also defended the country’s Judeo-Christian heritage.
During a television interview Ms Morano, an MEP with the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party, was asked to comment on the migrant crisis which currently has Europe in its grip. She said that she didn’t want to see Islam overtake Christianity as the main religion in France, the International Business Times has reported.
“We must keep a balance in the country, [preserve] its cultural majority to have national cohesion,” she told TV channel France 2. “We are a Judeo-Christian country – as General de Gaulle said – of white race that welcomes foreigners. I want France to remain France; I’m not looking forward to see it become a Muslim country.”
Her interviewer, Laurent Ruquier, said that he was “shocked.”
The comments drew much criticism on social media, particularly over Ms Morano’s use of the word “race,” which was banned by France’s parliament in 2013 thanks to its apparently discriminatory connotations. But Ms Morano has defended its use, saying she was entitled to use the word as “it is in the dictionary.”
Others focused their criticism on the fact that France has a number of overseas territories, including the French West Indies and French Guiana. Twitter user Natalia Robles quipped: “’France is a country of white race.’ We thank viewers watching the program from the Antilles.”
France is currently home to the largest Muslim population in Western Europe. Around 7 per cent of its population – 5 million people – are Muslim.
However, former President Nicolas Sarkozy will have to beat off competition from the right in the form of Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front, if he wants to secure a come back at the next election.
Along with rebranding his party ‘Les Republicains’, Sarkozy has moved his party to the right on immigration, proposing tougher policies including reducing migrants’ access to welfare earlier this month. In July, he signed a petition opposing the “repurposing” of unused churches into mosques.
A poll taken earlier this month suggested that Marine Le Pen is currently on track to win the Presidency.