The Collectif contre l’Islamophobe en France has condemned comments by UMP deputy mayor of Nice and former government minister, Christian Estrosi.
Asked whether he agreed with prime minister François Hollande’s statement during a visit to Tunisia that Islam and democracy are compatible, Estrosi replied: “Absolutely not! We can’t claim adherence to secularism everywhere and at the same time say that Islam and democracy are perfectly compatible.”
Estrosi argued that in France “everyone starts screaming” when ostentatious religious signs are displayed in a crèche, school or public place – a response that he described as “completely legitimate” – and it was therefore impossible to react otherwise when religion intruded into public life abroad.
He continued: “Whenever I see what is happening, in the name of Islam, in Egypt and in a number of countries in the Middle East and the Maghreb, I am particularly worried. And so for me it is perfectly incompatible,” he repeated. “I want to defend the idea of freedom, of democracy, based on the principle of secularism, which provides the model for our country.”
Estrosi followed this up with an attack on France’s traveller community. As the CCIF points out, the political strategy adopted by Estrosi is quite transparent. With the approach of municipal elections he is stepping up his rhetoric “against Muslims, Roma and anyone he perceives as foreign”.