French Interior Minister Claude Gueant, who also holds the immigration portfolio, caused political uproar on Saturday by claiming that not all civilizations are equal, with some more advanced than others.
“Contrary to what the left’s relativist ideology says, for us, all civilizations are not of equal value,” Gueant told a conference in the French parliament building, but closed to the media.
“Those which defend humanity seem to us to be more advanced than those that do not,” he said in his speech at a meeting organized by a right-wing students group.
“Those which defend liberty, equality and fraternity, seem to us superior to those which accept tyranny, the subservience of women, social and ethnic hatred,” he said in his speech, a copy of which was obtained by reporters.
He stressed the need to “protect our civilization.”
The minister’s comments provoked a torrent of criticism from the opposition and on the Internet, less than three months a head of a French presidential election.
The left denounced his speech as an attempt by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to woo the far-right National Front voters ahead of the presidential election.
The Young Socialist Movement condemned Gueant’s “xenophobic and racist” speech, while the minister’s entourage attempted to dismiss his comments as merely condemning those who practice repression and inequality.
On his Twitter account, Harlem Desir, the No. 2 in the French Socialist Party, criticized “the pitiful provocation from a minister reduced to a mouthpiece for the FN [far-right National Front party].”
The ruling UMP party is in “electoral and moral decline,” he added.
For her part, Cecile Duflot, national secretary of the French Green Party, wrote of a “return to three centuries ago. Contemptible.”
It is not the the first time Gueant has courted controversy.
Gueant has repeatedly linked immigration with crime in France and last month said the delinquency rate among immigrants was “two to three times higher” than the national average.
In April last year, he said an increase in the number of Muslim faithful in France posed a “problem”.
He also said then that he wants to reduce the number of legal immigrants entering France, including those coming to work legally or join their families.
His latest controversial comments come as the anti-immigration National Front’s presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is credited with 20 percent support in the opinion polls, a figure which is sounding alarm bells throughout the French political establishment and beyond.
Sarkozy is trailing in the opinion polls to Socialist presidential candidate Francois Hollande.
The US and the Philippines plan to announce new sites as soon as possible for an expanded Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which gives the Western power access to military bases in the Southeast Asian country. Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr last month granted the US access to four military bases, on top of five existing locations under the 2014 EDCA, amid China’s increasing assertiveness regarding the South China Sea and Taiwan. Speaking at the Basa Air Base in Manila, one of the existing EDCA sites, US Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall said the defense agreements between the two countries
CONFLICTING ACCOUNTS: The US destroyer’s routine operations in the South China Sea would have ‘serious consequences,’ the defense ministry said China yesterday threatened “serious consequences” after the US Navy sailed a destroyer around the disputed Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) in the South China Sea for the second day in a row, in a move Beijing claimed was a breach of its sovereignty and security. The warning came amid growing tensions between China and the US in the region, as Washington pushes back at Beijing’s growingly assertive posture in the South China Sea, a strategic waterway it claims virtually in its entirety. On Thursday, after the US sailed the USS Milius guided-missile destroyer near the Paracel Islands, China said its navy and
‘DUAL PURPOSE’: Upgrading the port is essential for the Solomon Islands’ economy and might not be military focused, but ‘it is not about bases, it is about access,’ an analyst said The Solomon Islands has awarded a multimillion-dollar contract to a Chinese state company to upgrade an international port in Honiara in a project funded by the Asian Development Bank, a Solomon Islands official said yesterday. China Civil Engineering Construction Co (CCECC) was the only company to submit a bid in the competitive tender, Solomon Islands Ministry of Infrastructure Development official Mike Qaqara said. “This will be upgrading the old international port in Honiara and two domestic wharves in the provinces,” Qaqara said. Responding to concerns that the port could be deepened for Chinese naval access, he said there would be “no expansion.” The Solomon
Seven stories above a shop floor hawking cheap perfume and nylon underwear, Thailand’s “shopping mall gorilla” sits alone in a cage — her home for 30 years despite a reignited row over her captivity. Activists around the world have long campaigned for the primate to be moved from Pata Zoo, on top of a Bangkok mall, with singer Cher and actor Gillian Anderson adding their voices in 2020. However, the family who owns Bua Noi — whose name translates as “little lotus” — have resisted public and government pressure to relinquish the critically endangered animal. The gorilla has lived at Pata for more