Hollande: 'Muslim women could be symbol of France'

Ben McPartland
Ben McPartland - [email protected]
Hollande: 'Muslim women could be symbol of France'
The statue of Marianne, a symbol of France. Photo: AFP

A new book titled "A President Should Not Say That..." has revealed that François Hollande calls Nicolas Sarkozy "a Duracell bunny", how his ex-partner was obsessed by another ex-partner, and how he believes a Muslim woman could one day be the symbol of France (if she feels free enough to ditch her hijab).


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

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.



Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also