If Nicolas Sarkozy had been allowed to have his way, he could have saved France. Last Summer the outspoken minister of the Interior was France’s most popular politician with his promise to restore the law of the Republic in the various virtually self-ruling immigrant areas surrounding the major French cities.
These areas, which some compare to the “millet” system of the former Ottoman Empire, where each religious community (millet) conducted its own social and cultural life in its own neighbourhoods, exist not only in France, but also in Muslim neighbourhoods in Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and other countries.
The French establishment led by the corrupt President Jacques Chirac and his Prime Minister, the aristocrat Dominique de Villepin, an appointee who has never held an elected office, begrudged Sarkozy his popularity. The minister was distrusted. He was an outsider, a self-made man who had made it to the top without the support of relations and cronies, by hard work and his no-nonsense approach.
Sarkozy (whose real surname is Sarközy de Nagy-Bocsa) is a second generation immigrant, the son of a Hungarian refugee and a Greek mother. “I like the frame of mind of those who need to build everything because nothing was given to them,” he said a few months ago about his upbringing.
The experience of his youth has made Sarkozy not only the most pro-American French politician, but also virtually the only one who understands what second generation immigrants really need if they want to build a future.
More important than the so-called “social benefits” – the government alms provided by welfare politicians like Chirac, Villepin and their predecessors – is the provision of law and order. This guarantees that those who create wealth do not lose it to thugs who extort and rob and burn down their properties.
Sarkozy’s decision to send the police back to the suburbs which had been abandoned by previous governments was resented by the “youths” who now rule there. That this would lead to riots was inevitable. Sarkozy knew it, and so did Chirac, Villepin and the others. Sarkozy intended to crack down hard on the rioters. If the French government had sent in the army last week, it would have been responding to the thugs in a language they understand: force. And the riots would long have ceased.
What happened instead was that Sarkozy’s “colleagues” in government used the riots as an excuse to turn on the “immigrant” in their own midst. Paris is well worth a mass, King Henri IV of France once said. Bringing down Nicolas Sarközy de Nagy-Bocsa is well worth a riot, King Chirac must have thought. Contrary to the normal French policy in dealing with trouble makers, the authorities decided to use a soft approach. Chirac and his designated crown prince Villepin blamed Sarkozy’s “disrespectful rhetoric” – such as calling thugs thugs – for having detonated the explosive situation in the suburbs. Dominique de Villepin stepped in and took over the task of restoring calm from Sarkozy. While the latter was told to shut up and keep a low profile, Villepin began a “dialogue” with the rioters. As a result the riots have spilled over from Paris to other French cities. Do not be surprised if this French epidemic soon crosses France’s borders into the North African areas surrounding cities in Belgium and the Netherlands.
As for Sarkozy, the best thing this immigrant son can do is to resign and make a bid for the 2007 presidential elections as an outsider. His popularity with the ordinary Frenchmen has not been tarnished yet. But this could soon change if he remains a member of a Villepin government which is clearly unwilling to abolish the current “millet” system. French patriots do not like to see their country disintegrate into a cluster of self-governing city-states, some of which are Sharia republics.