The controversial agreement of the UMP (French political right party) entitled “Secularism, how to live together”, that began on April 5th; a discussion focusing on the topic of “Islam in France”. One might as well say that the French political class has been the subject of several comments since the announcement of this debate. Islamophobic and inappropriate remarks in regards to Muslims in France are no longer found amusing. So, I wrote with all my heart and soul, inspired from Emile Zola’s letter “J’accuse”, my open letter to Mr. President, Nicolas Sarkozy.
Will you allow me, for the sake of your defeat to just tell you that your destiny, so inspired so far, is threatened by the most shameful and most indelible acts?
You were left unharmed in the elections of 2007, when you had conquered the hearts of 53.06% of the French. You looked brilliant in the apotheosis of this patriotic celebration on the morning of May 17 and you were ready to rule over a country with its history and honor. But what a task after 4 years of service, that this debate on Islam and Secularism underlines, false-debate of which you are a defender.
It’s over, French Muslims have the heart and spirit tainted by this soiling. History will testify that it was under your presidency that a climate of such Islamophobia was reached.
My duty is to speak up; I do not want to be an accomplice of what is now the past. My nights are haunted by the fear of having to constantly justify myself about my faith, my values and my identity.
It is to you, Mr. President, that I shall proclaim this truth, with the strength of my revolt as an honest citizen. But first of all, the truth about those first 4 years of psychological torture.
You promised us a “United France” – We had the creation of a Ministry of Immigration and National Identity. You promised us a “Serene France – We had, October 27, 2005, the deaths of Bouna and Zied. The same day, we had tear gas in a local mosque and riots in the suburbs. You promised us a “Friendly France – We had Muslim graves soiled. May I remind you, the night from 5th to 6th April 2008, when 148 Muslim graves in the military cemetery of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette were stained with insults directly aimed at Islam. You promised us a “Tolerant France – We had, September 14th, 2010, the law banning integral veils (covering the face) in public places. You promised us a “Free France” – We had Martine Aubry’s case (President of the Social Party), with the pressure of the UMP, your party, to withdraw her signature from a petition on the grounds of T. Ramadan’s membership. You promised us a “France with education for all” – We had the law of March 15th, 2004 with its share of excluded students from public Republican high schools since its implementation. Without forgetting the consequences, 7 years later: the threat of excluding students wearing skirts and long dresses in the city of St-Ouen. You promised us an “Impartial France” We had Darcos (Minister of Education) saying ” If you do not like the French Republic, you can go somewhere else”. Claude Gueant (Minister of Home Affairs), his “crusader” Hortefeux (Former Minister of Home affaires) and his comments about Arabs “There is always one around. If it was only one, it’d be fine. It’s when there are more that problems begin”. Chantal Brunel (UMP) and her reference: “immigrants in boats”… because “noises and odours” were not enough, “the sheep in the bathtub” either, to offend us, we had to find something else?
These are just some examples, the list is too long.
So, Mr. President, I accuse you, you, as well as other politicians. I accuse you of being guilty and responsible, by action, inaction or silence of respect, and acts of Islamophobia and branding initiatives against 6 million citizens of Muslim faith and tradition.
This is the plain truth, Mr. President, and it is appealing, it will remain a stain on your presidency because you had the power in all those cases. French Muslims, as a whole, require only one thing. It must be said, what you owed them well: Respect, Mr. President, respect and consideration!
Today I say, with the most vehement conviction: We will make of our presence a change. Remember that it has started and nothing will stop it. It is today that the change begins. From today the positions are clear; on one hand, the guilty ones who insult with impunity any part of the French population in their confessions before a heavy national silence. On the other, those who sacrifice themselves so that justice is done.
Mr. President, I want to tell you that it is also with this contemptuous attitude towards French Muslims, that you have insulted the memory of our ancestors, the men and women who died for France. You should know, as said so well by John Fitzgerald Kennedy that “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers”. Do you remember them?
One last question, Mr. President, should we reach that point where by our absence we demonstrate the necessity of our presence? With the winds of revolution in the Arab-Muslim world, we will see if you do not come to prepare for the future, the most resounding of disasters. But this letter is long, Mr. President, and it is time to conclude.
Please accept, Mr. President my profound impropriety for your title.
A Citizen [Inspired by the letter "J'accuse" of Emile Zola]