by Nabila Ramdani
"Labouring a divisive debate about clothes so as to stigmatise a distinct community becomes part of a dehumanising agenda championing the politics of exclusion. This is especially so when it is framed using colonial references to compliant “negroes” and allegedly enslaved Muslim women from immigrant backgrounds. Incredibly, Ms Rossignol’s poisonous comments actually come in the month that her government launched an anti-hate campaign across TV, radio and the Internet with the slogan “Racism begins with words”.
In the face of widespread outrage at her language, Ms Rossignol rowed back slightly, saying her overtly racist words had been “misconstrued”, even though she stood by her basic arguments. Mr Bergé, meanwhile, tried to partially mitigate his own views by resorting to a variation of the “some of my best friends are black” chestnut, explaining: “I live in Morocco most of the time, I am really not Islamophobic”.
Some might argue that owning a supremely luxurious art deco villa and botanical garden retreat in Marrakech, as Mr Bergé does, might not exactly qualify anybody to appreciate the problems ordinary French Muslims are experiencing at the moment. Discrimination and a lack of opportunities for social advancement remain rife, and physical assaults and attacks on mosques have increased dramatically in the wake of terrorist atrocities carried out by barbaric extremists."