Two issues have rubbed many people the wrong way when it comes to French President Sarkozy. One, the banning of Burqas or Islamic veils, the other, the expulsion of the Roma people from French land. It might be important to first visit the fact that President Sarkozy has had a terrible drop in ratings and needs a boost in popularity for the upcoming election.
The Majority of French vote agreed with the ban on the burqa but it seemed to be presented to the people as a way to ‘Keep Muslim women down.’ It is far more tolerable for people to think they are defending than being discriminatory but either side of the issue you are on, it was a winning situation. Those who supported the dignity of women, might have thought they were taking a stand. On the other hand, what about those who banned it for strictly discriminatory reasons? When you are voting no one asks you why, so it is hard to say. Either way, I am curious if it were for the better of the Muslim women, did anyone ask them how they felt about going against their religious traditions? Did anyone ask these women if they felt their dignity was being ignored with banning? Therefore, maybe it is easier to sympathize and vote for something when it is figuratively ‘Veiled’ by something else. The only people who know for sure are those who voted. For the issue itself, Sarkozy must have looked like a really great guy to some French citizens. However, for those who disagreed with the ban, it is hard to have your voice heard when it is being presented as a way to defend another human beings rights to their dignity.
The other issue France is facing, is the expulsion of the Roma people from French land. The Roma have been blamed for the high crime rate and upheaval on French land. It seems the attitude is that the Roma cannot be assimilated into French society and therefore, must go. It leaves me to wonder if anyone can be assimilated into a society that seems to have no place for them. Many of these people are living in camps and instead of the French government offering money to help them get a good start in France, they are giving the Roma money to leave instead. The problem doesn’t seem to be trying to preserve the Roma’s dignity in this case, but to have them leave because they seem to be staining the dignity of France. President Sarkozy cannot claim that he is not being racist in this case as he is blaming crime on race. He is specifically paying off the Roma to leave whether they have committed a crime or not. However, he hopes to boost his ratings by implying that he can solve crime problems by removing these people. The problem with this is that he is assuming that the people of France are blind to xenophobia and that they will be grateful and vote him in. If this were not racially motivated, he would not have used the Roma as a scapegoat for his countries problems.
I have no doubt President Sarkozy is using panic and fear to try to keep the French people dependent on him and secure his place in office.