“Contrary to what the left’s relativist ideology says, for us all civilisations are not of equal value,” Gueant on Saturday told a conference in the French parliament building, but closed to the media.
“Those which defend humanity seem to us to be more advanced than those that do not,” he argued in his speech at a meeting organised by a right-wing students group. “Those which defend liberty, equality and fraternity, seem to us superior to those which accept tyranny, the subservience of women, social and ethnic hatred,” he went on his speech, a copy of which was obtained by AFP. He stressed the need to “protect our civilisation.”
The interior minister’s comments provoked a torrent of criticism from the opposition and on the Internet, less than three months a head of a French presidential election. The left denounced his speech as an attempt by President Nicolas Sarkozy to woo the far-right National Front voters ahead of the presidential election.
Gueant has repeatedly linked immigration with crime in France and last month said the delinquency rate among immigrants was “two to three times higher” than the national average. Last April, he declared that an increase in the number of Muslim faithful in France posed a “problem”.
Update: See “French minister’s remarks seen as Muslim putdown”, Associated Press, 7 February 2012