Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Muslim Cartoons v. Sarkozy

After defending himself against calls that he is a racist on a TV show several days ago, UMP candidate Nicolas Sarkozy has reinjected himself into the debate over Islam in Europe, this time defending a publication that printed the inflammatory Muhammad cartoons a year ago. The publication, Charlie Hebdo magazine, is being sued by two French Muslim groups, and Sarkozy sent a letter to the court in the magazine's defense.

A lawyer for the magazine read a letter out from Mr Sarkozy, who is standing as presidential candidate for the right-wing UMP.

Mr Sarkozy noted he was often a target of the magazine but said he would prefer "too many caricatures to an absence of caricature".

Mr Sarkozy's letter drew concern from one of the Muslim groups behind the legal action.

"He should remain neutral," Abdullah Zekri of the Paris Grand Mosque was as saying quoted by Reuters news agency.

The official French Council of Muslim Faith (CFCM) voiced anger at what it said was government interference and convened an emergency meeting.

It seems clear that Sarkozy has all but written off the immigrant/Muslim/Black vote, and feels he can gain more votes on the far right by appearing tough against Islam. He certainly has a right to defend freedom of speech, but the French should not urge on his xenophobic tendencies. After all, in a democracy, the elected reflect the electors.

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