Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy warned of threats to the French national identity in his first major campaign speech for next April’s presidential election.
Speaking Thursday evening at an event in Provence in southeastern France, Sarkozy warned that the failure of Muslim immigrants and their descendants to assimilate poses a long-term threat to the French nation.
Sarkozy noted the increase in foreign languages spoken in France, particularly among refugees and other immigrants, suggesting that immigrant communities had weakened state authority.
“Where is the authority when it is the minorities who govern? Never before has so much been ceded to them,” adding, “I will be the president that re-establishes the authority of the state.”
The former President also pledged to pass nationwide bans on the modest swimwear popular with some Muslim women, popularly dubbed the “burkini”.
“I refuse to let the burkini impose itself at French beaches and swimming pools,” said Sarkozy. “[T]here must be a law to ban it throughout the Republic’s territory”.
Sarkozy narrowly lost his re-election bid in 2012 to Socialist candidate Francois Hollande.
But polls for next year’s election show the incumbent trailing badly. A BVA poll in July for the first round of voting showed Hollande tied for third, trailing not only Sarkozy but Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front.
Even if Hollande did make it to the second round of voting – a candidate must win an absolute majority – polls show him losing by a wide margin not only to Sarkozy but even Le Pen.