Sarkozy to Muslims: Be Discreet
French president sympathizes with Swiss in minaret ban
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2009 12:38 PM CST
French President Nicolas Sarkozy delivers a speech in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Francois Mori, Pool)

(Newser) – People of all faiths, but especially Muslims, must “refrain from ostentation and practice their religion in humble discretion,” Nicolas Sarkozy opined today, sympathizing with the Swiss voters who approved a minaret ban last week. In a column in Le Monde, the French president warned Muslims that doing anything that appeared to challenge France’s Christian heritage would “doom to failure” moderate Islam in the country.

Sarkozy launched a debate over immigration and France’s national identity last week in the wake of the minaret vote. “Instead of condemning the Swiss,” he wrote today, “we should try to understand what they meant to express, and what so many people in Europe feel. Nothing would be worse than denial.” Sarkozy argues that defending the national identity is a noble cause, dismissing his opponents on the left who says he’s trying to stigmatize Muslim immigrants.