Presidential candidate calls unaccompanied immigrant children ‘thieves’, ‘rapists’ and ‘murderers’

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Éric Zemmour, the new old face of French sectarianism.

The parallels are obvious. The French presidential candidate for the Reconquest, Éric Zemmour, was a media personality for a long time before turning to politics. And during a television appearance in August 2020, he called unaccompanied migrant children “thieves”, “rapists” and “murderers”. Unlike the United States, France has laws against hate speech. And Zemmour was fined €10,000 ($11,400) for using this despicable language.

However, despite adopting the same anti-immigrant rhetoric as a previous US presidential candidate, Zemmour is an ex-political journalist and pundit, so his closest US counterpart isn’t Trump, it’s Tucker. Carlson. Although, as a Frenchman, his bigotry is generally more intellectually sophisticated. But the theme is the same. He hates immigrants and Muslims. And it’s not the first time he’s said it.

Zemmour was a fine for inciting racial discrimination in 2011 and anti-Muslim activism in 2018. He was acquitted of similar charges six times – in 2008, 2014 (twice), 2016, 2017 and 2019. And the convictions in 2015 and 2020 were overturned on appeal. I guess his apologists could say his string of acquittals is proof that he’s not a racist. But a disinterested judge will see the frequency of accusations pointing to a staunch racist, whose bigoted language is usually not actually illegal.

Zemmour is also well known for his support of the “great replacement” conspiracy theory that non-Europeans will replace the native population of France. Any Carlson fan will recognize this nonsense because Tucker is an enthusiastic promoter of the American version of this bigotry.

Anti-immigrant rhetoric is not a political tool exclusive to the United States and France. Brexiteers used it to convince Britons to vote to leave the European Union. And it worked. In all fairness, this was far from the only lie used by the Conservatives in the UK to trick people into voting against their economic interests. Although the Bible, guns and abortion are not “trigger topics” as they are in the US, the UK is unrivaled when it comes to racism and nationalism (which they label as “sovereignty”). Although virtually every other European country is guilty of the same sin.

A legacy of colonialism is the preferential treatment of citizens of former colonies seeking to immigrate to the European countries that once occupied them. In France, this has led to an increase in the Muslim population future from the Maghreb – the Islamic, Arab majority, from northwest Africa, including Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. Currently, 9 to 10% of French citizens have North African roots, while 7 to 9% are Muslim. French nationalist politicians are making political hay by defaming this minority as islanders facilitating terrorism, hiding their anti-French agenda in militant mosques while masked by a hijab. This is an incendiary claim that ignores that French Muslims marry outside of their religion 20-25% of the time.

And anti-Islamic bigotry create the very radicalism of which he warns. The more Zemmour and his traveling companions rise up against the “Muslim threat”, the more young French Muslims feel “unFrench” and turn to an increasingly fundamentalist Islam to forge an identity.

Zemmour has another flaw. He, like so many conservatives, is a hypocrite. While, as noted above, North Africans are predominantly Muslim, approximately 500,000 immigrants to the region are Jewish. Among them were Zemmour’s parents, who were Jewish Berbers who emigrated from Algeria in the 1950s. This is reminiscent of the anti-immigrant hatred in America propagated by an immigrant population itself.

Finally, let us ask what are the chances of victory for Zemmour? The French presidential elections are a two-round affair. Everyone can run in the first round. This year There are 41 candidates. The top two then advance to the second round, where the candidate with the majority of votes wins the presidency.

In the 2017 election, Marine Le Pen, representative of the far-right National Rally, upset the forecasts by advancing to the second round, where Emmanuel Macron, the outgoing president, thrashed her. This time, Macron, barring seismic upheaval, will again be a finalist. There, he will probably face Le Pen again, Valérie Pécresse, the candidate of the Republicans, Zemmour, or Jean-Luc Mélenchon, of La France Insoumise.

These four candidates are close in the vote, so it is only after the results of the first round that we will know which one passes to the second round. And this time, the polls show that Macron, although a favorite, will have a harder time.

Will the French have their President Trump/Carlson? Probably not. But in 2016, Trump showed that the improbable was possible. May God help them.

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