French President Emmanuel Macron’s Friday interview with online media Brut, in which he spoke against alleged discriminatory police interventions against immigrants and called for the creation of a list of 300 to 500 “Black or Arab historical figures” who should have public places, monuments and streets named after them
Macron’s new proposal has sparked controversy in France and further discredits claims that he believes that the demographic replacement of the ethnic French is a negative trend for the country.
“There is a whole part of our collective history which is not represented, there is a whole part of our history which speaks to our youth who are black, coming from Africa or Maghreb areas and who have their heroes,” Macron said in the interview.
“What I would like is for historians and those who find themselves in these fragmented stories to be able to choose them. I would like there to be some kind of call for collective contribution. And we have 300 to 500 names, and we have this catalog by March where can make names and statues. Our story is the combination of all these stories,” he said.
In the interview, Macron also said he said those who speak Arabic at home are an asset for France.
“That your family speaks Arabic in France, it is a chance for France… Millions of our young people come from the African continent and we did not know how to speak to them,” said Macron.
This year, Macron introduced his plan to teach Arabic in schools as well as Arabic culture, which leading figures in the conservative movement said would only promote separatism. The interview lasted over two hours, with Macron being asked about police violence, separatism and coexistence, and various other topics such as the current COVID-19 pandemic and ecological issues.
In reaction to his drive to curb perceived police violence against minority groups, two French police unions, Alliance and Unité SGP-Police-FO, have already responded on Saturday, saying they will desist from making identity checks.
“No, the police are not racist,” the Alliance union said in a leaflet and a video posted on social networks calling on the police to “stop doing identity checks”.
The statement denounces “the distrust of the state vis-à-vis the police” and “dubious allusions to the actions of the police [and] the presumption of guilt for racism or stops based on race should not arise.”
The statement also warned: “It is shameful. The president will get the police he deserves.”
In the Brut interview, Macron said, “When you have a skin color that is not white, you are much more controlled”.
Title image: French President Emmanuel Macron adjusts his mask during a joint statement with Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, after their meeting, at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, France, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. (Benoit Tessier, Pool via AP)