• France's news in English
Hollande: 'Muslim women could be symbol of France'
The statue of Marianne, a symbol of France. Photo: AFP

Hollande: 'Muslim women could be symbol of France'

Ben McPartland · 12 Oct 2016, 12:24

Published: 12 Oct 2016 12:24 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The new book was penned by journalists Gérard Davet and Fabrice Lhomme who met with the president 61 times since he has been president.

They recorded their private conversations with him in which the president made several headline-making statements.

Firstly the one that has caused the most fuss, as might be expected in a country on edge and insecure about the place of Islam in its culture:

'The veiled woman of today will be the Marianne of tomorrow'

(The statue of Marianne in Place de la Republique. AFP)

Marianne, a statue of whom stands in the Place de la Republique in Paris, is a strong symbol of France and represents liberté and reason.

The statement has caused a storm in France, mainly because it was taken out of context and was used as an example of how Islam would one day take over French culture – a fear that has long gripped certain sections of the French population, particularly the far right.

And Britain's rightwing tabloid The Daily Mail also jumped on it: Hollande warns the country's national symbol will one day be a woman in a burqa," read the alarmist headline.

In reality Hollande was talking of how a liberated Muslim woman who stops wearing the headscarf or veil could become fully integrated in French culture, albeit at the same time suggesting a veiled French woman was not really a French woman.

"In a way if we can offer the conditions for her self-fulfillment, she will free herself from her veil and become a French woman, whilst remaining religious, if she wants to be, capable of having an ideal," Hollande said.

"This woman would prefer liberty to subjugation. The veil might act as a protection for her now, but tomorrow she may not need it to be reassured about her presence in society."

'France has a problem with Islam'

"There is a problem with Islam, no one doubts it," he said, picking on another inflammatory theme.

Explaining these words Hollande said: “It is not Islam that is problematic in the sense that it is a dangerous religion, but because it wants to assert itself as a religion in the French Republic.

"It can also be a problem if Muslims do not report acts of radicalization or if the imams act in an anti-Republican way."

There are too many immigrants

“I think there are too many immigrant arrivals who should not be there,” Hollande said revealing that he, like his Prime Minister Manuel Valls, is probably in favour of quotas and a crackdown on illegal immigration.

Sarkozy is a "Duracell bunny"

As would be expected Hollande doesn’t hold back against his sworn enemy and candidate to replace him at the Elysée Nicolas Sarkozy.

He describes him as a “little Charles de Gaulle”, referring to the former French president and Sarkozy’s height.

He also describes Sarkozy as a “Duracell bunny, who is always fussing”.

Ex-partner Trierweiler was obsessed by his ex-wife

Story continues below…

Hollande also says how Valerie Trierweiler, who he famously dumped in January 2014 after rumours of his relationship with actress Julie Gayet emerged, had an obsession with his former wife Ségolene Royal.

According to Hollande, Trierweiler was unnerved by the presence of Royal, who is now his Ecology Minister. “She always believed Ségolene was coming back.”

(French footballer Franck Ribery. AFP)

The French football team..

The president also revealed his problem with the French football team and its new generation of players who he would like to give lessons to.

He reckons they need "brain gym" and said they have "no values".

“They went from badly educated kids to wealthy stars, with no preparation," he said.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
France given wake up call as it bids for Brexit business
The business district 'La Defense' in Paris. Photo: AFP

France clearly has some work to do if it really wants to pinch business from the UK post-Brexit.

Mouth fun? French words you just can't translate literally
Do you know the French word for throat-support? Photo: AFP

Word of warning: Don't translate French literally.

How France plans to help its stressed-out police force
Yellow smoke rises around French police officers in Paris holding a banner reading "Solidarity with our colleagues, police angry". All photos: AFP

Could these measures stop the cops from protesting?

'3,000 migrants dispersed' after 'Jungle' clearance
Photo: AFP

While thousands of migrants have been bussed out around France, new ones are arriving all the time and thousands of others have simply been dispersed aid agencies say.

Fifteen of the most bizarre laws in France
Photo: Matthew Powell/Flickr

A must read for anyone who wants to stay on the right side of the law in France.

Medieval town in south of France upholds ban on UFOs
The town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Photo: Aa77zz/Flickr

Aliens take note.

American tourist dies at French Riviera sex club
The Riviera resort of Cannes. Photo: AFP

American tourist reportedly fell five floors after being pushed outside the underground sex club in Cannes.

Paris: 'Flying' water taxis to be tested on River Seine
Photo: SeaBubbles

An in Seine idea surely? But tests will go ahead.

France joins fight for rich pickings from post-Brexit UK
Photo: AFP/DcnH/Flickr

France tries to woo EU's bank regulator and other agencies.

How speaking French can really mess up your English
Photo: CollegeDegree360/Flickr

So you've mastered French, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available