SHAFAQNA – As Europe continues its dangerous descent towards religious fascism and the systematic ostracization of Muslim communities on account of their perceived “differences” Shafaqna sat down with a member of the French Front National – a far right political faction which has gained incredible popularity over the past 18 months, on account of its strong stance on migration, and radicalism.
While Shafaqna profoundly and absolutely rejects intolerance, prejudices and bias, we wanted to give the Front National an opportunity at dialogue – hoping maybe some of its members might leave with a different perspective on Islam, Muslims and those they say to hate so passionately.
Francois de Bergerac accepted our invitation at dialogue. Below is a transcript of the interview we conducted in London.
SHAFAQNA – Mr de Bergerac, thank you for taking the time to talk to Shafaqna. I would like to really tackle those very issues which have made the Front National so controversial. Your party made rather clear that Muslims are understood as not only a threat, but undesirable members of French society. Now, what do you mean by Muslims? I’m asking this question because a lot of the time people have aligned Islam with foreigners in general …. people also often assume that skin colour somewhat determines one’s religion. So by Muslims do you mean foreigners … all foreigners?
FRANCOIS DE BERGERAC – At the Front National we believe that France needs to set in place stringent immigration rules, so that our republican values, our society, and our economy could be preserve. We cannot tolerate for foreigners to come in and suddenly decide to change the rules by which our Republic was founded upon.
France has a radicalisation problem. The situation has reached the point where citizens feel unsafe in their own neighbourhoods. We have elements within our society … foreign, Muslim elements whose traditions and lifestyle stand in complete contradiction of our French values. These elements have no place in France.
SHAFAQNA – I agree with you that France has a radicalization problem. But don’t you think that Paris opened itself up to “radicalization” when it chose Saudi Arabia as a partner? Isn’t it true for example that over 80 percent of all Mosques and Islamic Centres in France are in fact funded by Saudi Arabia, and that the interpretation of Islam that they preach is what allowed for radicalism to take hold. Isn’t it true in this case that Wahhabism, and not Islam is the real enemy here?
FRANCOIS DE BERGERAC – Saudi Arabia has been an important partner in our fight against terrorism. Furthermore, I don’t see how our Foreign Policy has anything to do with radicalization at home. Muslims in France need to integrate and understand that religion has no place in civilian life.
SHAFAQNA – So you are saying that France’s decision to allow Wahhabi clerics in the country some decades ago has nothing to do with the fact that thousands upon thousands of Muslims in France have been raised and groomed by the very clergy which inspired the likes of al-Qaeda and ISIL.
As for Foreign Policy don’t you think that France’s decision to bomb Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen – directly or indirectly – did not help in the creation of the mass exodus we see today? You honestly see no link in between your political choices and alliances and the crisis you face today?
FRANCOIS DE BERGERAC – No I don’t. You are seeing links where they are none. What you are trying to do is excuse Muslims’ behaviour by shifting blame on the state.
SHAFAQNA – I can assure you I am not trying to excuse anything. Shafaqna rejects all forms of radicalism. Islam rejects all forms of radicalism. Islam stands for freedom, tolerance and justice. Islam is the religion of the middle. It was our Imam Ali who called on people to recognise that while they may not share in the same faith, they are bound together by their humanity. This is Islam …
Wahhabism you have failed to recognize is the very ideology which created the unrest and violence you say to want to outroot. Wahhabism is what you allowed in. Islam here, has been used as a scape goat by your party to justify your hatred and prejudice against foreigners.
Let me ask you another question: what is your position vis a vis migrants?
FRANCOIS DE BERGERAC – France cannot handle more migrants. This is a reality we cannot escape. It would be irresponsible to allow more Muslim migrants and hope to defeat radicalism … This would be counter-productive. France needs to reform its immigration policy and crackdown on illegal immigrants.
SHAFAQNA – You speak of migrants as if they are all Muslims! Are you saying that you would welcome Christians and other religious communities in? Are you comfortable with Syrian or Iraqi Christians for example? What about France’s commitment towards the UNHCR? Are you saying you would like to close your border to war refugees on account of their faith or ethnicity?
FRANCOIS DE BERGERAC – Most asylum seekers are Muslims so your argument does not hold. Muslims do not share our values and so they do no integrate well.
SHAFAQNA – I’m sorry what values are you referring to? I’m afraid your understanding of Islam has been warped by prejudice. We might not share your enthusiasm for pork meat and alcohol, but it is does not mean that Muslims have no values. If I may say so Islam is rather clear on such things as honesty, truthfulness, piety, honour, empathy, compassion, and restraint. So again what values are you referring to?
FRANCOIS DE BERGERAC – Look Islam imposes ridiculous limitations on women. Women in Islamic countries cannot work,marry or even dress as they wish. Women are treated like commodities and corporal punishment are still viewed as holy!
SHAFAQNA – Again … you are referring here to Saudi Arabia. Islam clearly enounces women rights. Actually Islam protects and affirms women rights. It did so for over a millennium. I took France much longer to treat women with such fairness I recall.
As for corporal punishment, isn’t it true that France rationalized torture when at war? You are also in alliance with many countries who still practice the death penalty, for example the United States. Does this mean that in your eyes the US is no longer a “civilized” nation? The death penalty does not imply barbarism. Islam does no encourage violence, it legislates over crimes. Moreover, I would argue that Christianity and Judaism hold the same views. Isn’t France a Christian nation? Are you not yourself a Christian?
FRANCOIS DE BERGERAC – I don’t see how my faith is relevant here.
SHAFAQNA – Well it is not,but you mentioned corporal punishments and aligned any such practice with barbarism, and so I’m curious to know how you reconcile such views with your own faith.
Finally, are you aware that many asylum seekers today are actually Christians running way from the horrors of ISIL?
FRANCOIS DE BERGERAC – Look, I’m not saying that a few might be Christians but certainly the Middle East is majority Islamic. I don’t see what point you’re trying to make.
SHAFAQNA – My point is that you assume all war refugees to be Muslims when they are not. Not all Arabs are Muslims, and not all Muslims are Arabs. You cannot ethnically profile a faith. What about those French nationals who chose to convert to Islam? What do you do with those? Do not they longer share in your values, even though they were born and raised in France?
What about facing up to the fact that your government, and your policies have allowed for radicalism to spread like a cancer across the world. You continue today to accuse Muslims of the ills of the world, because really you have no real solution to offer.