We are not service Arabs

Exclusive interview

Interview given to Denis DAUMIN   |   Head of Service for The New Republic

We are not service Arabs

Your opponents, on the right as well as on the left, point to you as communitarians advancing in a mask. Why so much hatred?

Probably because we are a nuisance. Many of our opponents, not the least of whom - I mean those who are in the public eye and in interviews all year round - even spread colossal untruths in order to harm us.

We would like to impose halal in canteens, separate men from women in public spaces, erect mosques in neighborhoods, etc.

None of our candidates advocate this, of course. In fact, we have initiated proceedings on this subject. The reality is that these established parties, which have been in the landscape for ages, have every interest in discrediting us by relying on this fantasy. This is what I call the "Submission" reflex software, in reference to the book by Michel Houellebecq.

It works quite well, minds are receptive, and it closes the debate we claim to open.

But the very name of your party includes the word "Muslims". You're giving the runaround to those who accuse you of latent separatism.

Separatism is that which is organized in indifference and silence. It is, for example, the exemplary partition of Joué-lès-Tours between the suburban, residential, peaceful city center and the outskirts of the housing projects. Inhabitants are no longer parked there, but individuals sharing a certain number of characteristics. It so happens that a certain number of them are Muslims. We consider that this is not enough to define them. And in our eyes this characteristic has, not a religious meaning, but a deeply political meaning.

What does that mean?

This is the whole question of relegation, of second-class citizenship. To put it another way: it is the betrayal of the Republican motto. Liberty, equality, fraternity. Where are they? Confiscated for the benefit of the elites of this country. Where is the equality of education and health when you live in these neighborhoods? We are not the only ones to ask these questions but we have a certain legitimacy to do so.

The Republic also rhymes with secularism. Would you be willing to sign, for example, a charter of secularism?

With both hands if everyone signs it. We claim to be republicans and therefore secular and we do not ask for a certificate of Muslimness from our candidates. We consider ourselves as citizens of a country, France, to which we are attached. The French Muslim has much more to offer to the community than the sharia, believe me. Today, what do people talk to us about? No mosque in the neighborhood, I assure you. They want a school that gives their children equal opportunity, a police force that hunts down drug dealers, and serious job prospects on which they can base their plans. Of course, all the candidates promise this. Although most of them have resources a hundred times greater than ours, will they respect their commitments? We are also participating in this campaign to remind them, but we can work with all of them.

xcept the RN, of course?

That goes without saying. But better by illustrating it. We had a list in Maubeuge (North) we withdrew it because it became a campaign argument for the RN. We did not want to be scapegoats. Our position, vigilant, is different with the others.

At the risk of fuelling suspicions of collusion with certain clientelist candidates?

You refer to the UDI in the northern suburbs of Paris. We had made agreements and obtained an elected official from whom the means were withdrawn. He resigned.

We do not want to be the token Arabs forever.