“French Without Tears,” by Martin Walker, The National Interest, Spring 2005, ppg 136-138.
To fight terrorism:
There are sections of almost every French city that are intensely Arab, and one reason why Sarkozy became so popular as interior minister was his announcement that there would be no more “no-go areas” for the French police, and he set up the special squads of riot police, gendarmes and customs agents to invade and bring the ruling gang leaders, or caids, to book. In an interview with Le Figaro in September 2003, he announced a tough new policy for visiting Muslims seeking to radicalize their French brethren:
“No one should expect any weakness from me. Mosques where extremist Islam is preached will be closed. Imams who give radical sermons will be expelled. And people coming to conferences who don’t show proof of respect for republican rules will find themselves systematically denied visas to enter France.”
To his Bush-style inauguration as head of the center-right political party in France, the UMP:
Characteristically, Sarkozy staged a very American kind of political spectacular for his investiture as head of the ump, in a vast hangar at Le Bourget Airport decked out to resemble Bush’s Republican convention arena in New York. Chirac chose not to attend (and made some waspish remarks about the reputed cost of $6 million), but 40,000 of the party faithful turned up to hear Sarkozy promise a new era for France and cheer him to the echo. As he told them,
To his faith-based efforts to strengthen horizontal bonds — what we call “civil society”:
Sarkozy has now produced a book, which translates as “The Republic, Religions and Hope”, that seeks to address the issue of Muslims in France, which many voters put at the top of their concerns. It is a thin volume of 180 pages, mostly conversations with philosopher Philippe Verdin, but it is revolutionary by French standards in that it calls for an end to the 1905 law that established France as a secular republic, separating the state from religion. If the state can subsidize sports and culture clubs, Sarkozy asks, why not churches?
Religion is a quality essential to civilization and morality, Sarkozy insists (an unusual stance to take in what is fast becoming post-Christian Europe). “The moral dimension is most solid, most deeply rooted, when it proceeds from a spiritual or religious engagement, rather than when it seeks its source in political discussion or republican morality.” Only religion can define and assert the moral absolutes that a just and self-confident society requires, he argues, adding that it is a weakness of the French state that it lacks this moral dimension. In a France whose schoolchildren are still inculcated daily with “republican virtues”, and where the American political process is mocked for the power of religious groups and the prevalence of religious rhetoric, this is bold stuff. But Sarkozy is clear: “the Republic does not recognize the distinction between good and evil. She defends rules, the law, without grounding these in a moral order.”
Three cheers for Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007!