Too many foreigners in France: Sarkozy

2012-03-07 14:03

Paris - President Nicolas Sarkozy declared on Tuesday that there are too many immigrants in France, as the country's presidential election campaign became caught up in issues of religion and identity.

Defending a re-election campaign promise to cut the number of new arrivals in half, Sarkozy bluntly declared that France's attempts to integrate foreign arrivals into its culture and society had become paralysed.

"Our system of integration is working more and more badly, because we have too many foreigners on our territory and we can no longer manage to find them accommodation, a job, a school," Sarkozy said.

Sarkozy has been accused of tacking to the right in the run up to the April 22 first round of the French presidential election in order to recruit voters tempted by anti-immigrant candidate Marine Le Pen's platform.

But, in a television interview, he insisted that while immigration could remain "a boon" for France in many areas, it must be controlled more tightly through tougher residency qualifications for newcomers.

"Over the five-year term I think that to restart the process of integration in good conditions, we must divide by two the number of people we welcome, that's to say to pass from 180 000 per year to 100 000," he said.

Dietary practices

Sarkozy also announced new plans to limit some welfare benefit payments currently available to immigrant workers to those who have enjoyed residency for ten years and have worked for five of those.

The hardening of his tone came after a week in which the issue of Muslim immigration and in particular Islamic and Jewish dietary practice has surged to the fore in the national debate, upsetting religious leaders.

Jews and Muslims came together on Tuesday to complain they were being used as pawns in the election, after first Le Pen then Sarkozy and finally his prime minister Francois Fillon criticised the production of halal and kosher meat.

"France's problems are so major, as we are in a period of crisis, so how can the issue of kosher meat and halal meat be a major problem for France?" asked an exasperated Grand Rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim.

For its part, the French Council of the Muslim Faith slammed what it said was the use of Muslims as "scapegoats" in the election campaign in which halal slaughter of animals has become a hot-button issue.

The unusually strong reactions from the communities came a day after Fillon urged Muslims and Jews to consider scrapping "outdated" slaughter rules.

Le Pen launched the halal debate last month when she claimed all meat from Paris region abattoirs was prepared using Islamic halal traditions and that non-Muslim consumers in the capital were being misled.

Labelling meat

Like kosher slaughter, the halal method requires the abattoir to kill the beast by slitting its throat. Stunning the beast first - as is done in non-ritual abattoirs - to lessen its ordeal is not permitted.

It later emerged that Paris region abattoirs mostly supplied local Muslim butchers and that most meat sold in Paris came from outside the region.

But the issue stuck and on Saturday Sarkozy suggested meat should be labelled to tell consumers how the animal was slaughtered.

France is home to western Europe's largest Muslim minority, officially estimated at least four million, and its largest Jewish community, estimated at up to 700 000.

The country has for years been debating how far it is willing to go to accommodate Islam, now its second religion, and Sarkozy and Le Pen have both made the matter a central issue in their campaigns.

Francois Hollande, the Socialist candidate and frontrunner in opinion polls, said his rivals had now gone too far and called for "restraint".

France will vote in the first round of a presidential election on April 22, followed by a second-round run-off on May 6. All recent opinion polls forecast that Hollande will emerge victorious.

  • daniel.w.gie - 2012-03-07 14:31

    this is so funny coming from a immigrant himself .... as a matter of interest , do we descendants of French huguenots qualify to be French , considering that we fled France , becAUSE of religious intolerance . can we re-claim ancestral property etc to hear an answer ?

      Vicker - 2012-03-07 14:47

      You are a settler - you must return to your ancestral country, wena you agent...

  • Fidel - 2012-03-07 14:45

    Mass immigration is the payback you get for colonising the world for hundreds of years. Did you think you would just pack up your things, go back home and live a quiet life without any bother from those pesky natives?

      Danny - 2012-03-07 15:20

      That is quite possibly the dumbest comment I've read on here. Mass immigration has nothing to do with payback and everything to do with better opportunities, more freedom, less oppression etc etc - it's not some misguided long-term vendetta!

      Fidel - 2012-03-07 15:29

      Your bellicose response actually lends my post further credibility. Watch out, your bile duct is getting the better of your brain.

      Danny - 2012-03-07 15:33

      Nice use of English but it still doesn't help your argument. Nice try - keep that pseudo-intellectual behaviour up

      Gaby - 2012-03-07 15:37

      There is no waiting list for Cuba, you are welcome.

      Anthony - 2012-03-07 15:44

      Fidel, Your endless HATRED AND RACISM , knows no boudaries !!!!!

      Fidel - 2012-03-07 15:57

      @Danny Since you work so hard to point out the deficiencies of my argument and the things that make it so, you implicitly obligate yourself to inspect the facts that would add devastating strength to your very own argument. Your argument neither supports your point nor detracts from mine. The bulk of immigrants in France are Franco speaking Africans from West and North Africa where France ran brutal colonies, hence the reference, being "bothered by pesky natives". Had you taxed your brain before switching your fingers, you would have made the connection but you couldn't miss the opportunity to rant at me.

      Danny - 2012-03-07 16:23

      @ Fidel - nice try again. The majority of immigrants in France are French speaking Africans and the reason for this is purely down to the ease of entry and proximity to France that many of these people have. Did you ever think why England carries more Indians, Pakistanis and West Indians than France and why France carries more Algerians and Congolese than England? If it is payback for colonisation, why are there more Zimbabweans in South Africa than in England? Not everyone sits there thinking up grand plans on how to get back at the oppressors. Some people just want to aim for something that will give them a better quality of life / better earning / more freedom / whatever. With the above in mind, you are still missing the point because if you had to look at the underlying reasons that cause them to relocate you will still find that it is not 'payback' for prior colonisation. Don't flatter yourself that my rant is directed at you personally. You gave an opinion on a public forum and I exercised my right to respond.

      Fidel - 2012-03-07 18:29

      @Danny "Pay back for colonisation" Somehow, you seem to have totally missed Hyperbole and Cant and gone straight for Reason. Odd behaviour, but there you are.

      Danny - 2012-03-07 20:37

      @Fidel - still making no sense but compliments where they are due, you do have a fantastic vocabulary even if your reasoning and ability to argue points in a factual manner leave a lot to be desired.

  • Danny - 2012-03-07 16:40

    My final point is this - the Mongol empire was the largest conquering empire in history extending to eastern Europe and south Asia. Why then, using your logic, are there not millions of people flooding to Mongolia to pay pack the oppressor? Could it be that Mongolia has no economy, no opportunities and doesn't really represent a better life for those people? Why do people flock to cities from rural areas? Is it to get back at the city dwellers who have pillaged the land? Sorry pal, but your argument is flawed. You're more than welcome to respond however without the long-winded little insults you aim towards me I would imagine that your response would be quite short.

  • Adil Smit - 2012-03-07 20:26

    If you don't like the French, don't move to France

  • Bibi - 2012-03-08 08:11

    Most immigrants in Europe are there for better opportunities, fleeing leaving their home countries because of war, oppresion and famine. It is also a fact that most of these immigrants are not loyal to their host countries (they despise the West in the first place)and plan terrorist attacks from there. This has become a real threat to the safety of Western countries. Almost all the terrorists that's been arrested here where I live, were 'immigrants' in European countries.

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