Sarkozy Reacts To Minaret Ban, Asking Believers Not To Be Showy

Sarkozy reacts to minaret ban, asking believers not to be showy

Earth Times
Posted : Tue, 08 Dec 2009 11:52:01 GMT
By : dpa

Paris – French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in his first public reaction to the recent Swiss referendum in favour of banning the minaret, on Tuesday urged all believers not to be ostentatious. “Christian, Jew or Muslim,… each one must guard against all ostentation and all provocation and, aware of the good fortune to be able to live in a free land, practise his religion with humble discretion,” Sarkozy said in an article published Tuesday in the daily Le Monde.

The French president suggested that the vote banning the minaret was a simplistic reaction to a complex problem.

“Can we answer yes or no to such a complex question that touches on such profound matters?” he wrote. “I am convinced that one only provokes painful misunderstandings, a feeling of injustice.”

However, he said he was “stupified” by the political and media reaction to the Swiss vote in France. “Excessive reactions, sometimes grotesque, regarding the Swiss people,” he said.

Sarkozy suggested that the minaret ban was approved because the Swiss people feel their identity being threatened by the effects of globalization.

As a solution to what he called “this silent threat,” Sarkozy called for the establishment of a national identity and the creation of a social melting-pot.

“The national identity is the antidote to tribalism and clannishness,” he wrote. “The melting-pot is the will to live together. Clannishness is the choice to live separately.”

Sarkozy and his minister for immigration and national identity, Eric Besson, have initiated a nationwide debate on national identity that has, however, inspired broad disapproval.

Opposition politicians, some media observers and a large majority of the public say Sarkozy cooked up the debate to draw votes from the extreme right-wing National Front of Jean-Marie Le Pen ahead of March's regional elections.

Even some influential figures from Sarkozy's own conservative camp, such as former prime minister Alain Juppe, have questioned the pertinence and usefulness of the debate.