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Sat

05

May

2007

How far will the New York Times go to get a neo-con elected in France?
Saturday, 05 May 2007 21:24
by Patricia Alessandrini
 
It isn’t surprising that the New York Times would oppose Ségolène Royal, the French presidential candidate who says she is not “for a Europe that aligns with the U.S.” (1), and support the neo-conservative Sarkozy.



But running “In French Bid, Immigrant’s Son Battles Reputation as Anti-Immigrant” as a leading article (front page on the web edition on the morning of May 5) goes a bit far even as pure propaganda goes. The leading line of Craig S. Smith's article, "In French Bid, Immigrant's Son Battles Reputation as Anti-Immigrant" states that, "Nicolas Sarkozy, the possible next president of France, has done as much, if not more, than any other French official to improve the status of minorities."

Apart from its misplaced comma, this sentence suffers from the more serious defect of having absolutely no basis in fact. It shows an utter disregard for the expertise and experience of mainstream organizations advocating for the rights of immigrants and minorities in France, such as SOS Racisme and La Ligue des droits de l'homme (LDR). The latter organization has openly supported Ségolène Royal, while saying that the "continuation and amplification of the policy carried out over the past five years [by Sarkozy as Minister of the Interior] would not be a 'dream' but rather a nightmare." The group is particularly concerned by possible increases in racism, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia. (2)

SOS Racisme has confronted Sarkozy on numerous occasions. One of these occasions is represented in a misleading manner by the author of the Times piece. He maintains that the accusation of blaming "blacks and Arabs" for suburban violence is a hearsay allegation made solely by Lilian Thuram.

In fact, SOS Racisme criticized Sarkozy for putting the blame on immigrants, and even brought a legal plaint against him because he ordered the expulsion of immigrants involved in the suburban violence. (This order to the prefectures was a violation of French immigration law, which requires immigration status to be considered on a case-by-case basis. He is alleged to have broken this law a second time when he set criteria for regularization of the status of parents with children in French schools and then afterwards set a quota for the number of applications to be accepted.)

Sarkozy may have denied Thuram's characterization of his comments, but he publicly declared that immigration bore a heavy responsibility for the suburban violence: he specifically singled out the regroupement familial as a cause, and by implication immigrants from former French colonies in North Africa. (3)

He has also made numerous comments denying or minimizing the crimes committed under French colonialism and by the Vichy regime, in March 2007 going so far as to claim that "France has not committed any crime against humanity". (4) This is an insult to both the French Jewish community and immigrants from former colonies.

Finally, Sarkozy made an enemy of Azouz Bégag, the Minister of Equal Opportunity serving in the same administration, who eventually resigned. According to the former minister's recent book, "A Lamb in the Bathtub" (the title is derived from comments Sarkozy made on television claiming that Muslims residing in France slaughter sheep in their bathtubs), Sarkozy insulted him and threatened him with physical violence after he had criticized Sarkozy's inflammatory comments about the suburbs and his policies as Minister of the Interior. (5)

The two main sources cited in the article – supposedly a news article, not opinion – are the editor of a blog and an African immigrant who works for the Sarkozy campaign. The Sarkozy volunteer has eight paragraphs out of 38 devoted to him. It is clear that if the Times reporter had actually done some research and consulted the experts in the field - those who actually work for equal opportunities and human rights and fight racism on a daily basis - rather than one person from Sarkozy’s campaign and a blog, he would have found that there is no evidence to support the claim that Sarkozy “has done as much, if not more, than any other French official to improve the status of minorities”.

(1) “Royal Accuses Rival of Apology to Bush on Iraq; Sarkozy Denies It”, New York Times, April 27, 2007
(2) From their press release entitled "Blocking the path to authoritarianism", as quoted in Le Monde, April 28, 2007.
(3) You can see his comments on the channel TF1 here:
(4) Quote from a campaign speech given in Caen, March 9, 2007. It is available on the UMP website, and translated here:
(5) See my own discussion of Sarkozy’s behavior towards Bégag on this site in “Image, Anecdote, and Reality: Why Sarkozy Really Is to Be Feared (or, How LePen Made the Second Round in the Disguise of Sarkozy)”
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bellasaurus said:

0
It would be the first time
Same bullshit from the same bull. The NY Times has never backed a conservative anything. However, they often get the facts wrong.
 
May 06, 2007
Votes: +0

Joe Noory said:

0
Ask yourself
What influence would the NYT have among French voters to begin with, and why, as a paper synonymous with the American left would they even do such a thing anyway?
 
May 07, 2007
Votes: +0

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