The French president, François Hollande has said that his country has “a problem with Islam” and that there are too many illegal migrants arriving in France.
He also said that today “veiled woman” could become a Marianne, the female symbol of the French republic, and attacked his rival Nicolas Sarkozy as “the little De Gaulle”.
The controversial remarks are published in a 660-page book.Hollande, 62, also spoke of the women in his life and how his actor girlfriend, Julie Gayet, wanted to be de facto the first lady of France, which he said was a “hot topic” between them. He admitted he is feeling lonely and betrayed in the Elysée Palace, where he sometimes feels like a “ghost”.
He made the comments during more than 60 interviews with Le Monde journalists Gérard Davet and Fabrice Lhomme. Hollande said “It’s true there is a problem with Islam … and nobody doubts that. There’s a problem with Islam because Islam demands places (of worship), recognition. It’s not that Islam is a problem because it’s a religion that is in itself dangerous but because it wants to assert itself as a religion on the Republic. What might also be a problem is if Muslims don’t criticize acts of radicalisation, if imams behave in an anti-republican way.”
He further added “The veiled woman of today will be the Marianne of tomorrow … because, in a certain way, if we offer her the right conditions to blossom she will liberate herself from her veil and become a French woman while remaining a believer if she wishes, capable of carrying with her an ideal … Ultimately, what are we betting on? That she will prefer freedom to subservience. Perhaps the veil is a kind of protection for her, but that tomorrow she will not need it in order to be reassured of her presence in society.”
On the topic of immigration, he said “I think there are too many arrivals, immigrants who shouldn’t be there … we teach them to speak French and then another group arrives and we have to start all over again. It never stops … so, at some point, it has to stop.”
Laurent Wauquiez, president of the opposition centre-right Les Républicains, accused Hollande of being “willing to barter the symbol of the French republic for political Islam”. He said Hollande was “selling off the most powerful symbols of the French republic on the cheap”.
On footballers, Hollande said that “guys from housing estates without bearings, without any values, who left France too early … they need weight training on their brains”.
And he also shared his personal love interest he said that “The woman I am closest to is Ségolène … she is there when I need her.
“What weighs heavily on me is not having a family life. I liked family life a lot … at the Elysée you cannot have a private life. There is no time to be happy.”