April 23, 2006

Far-right leader decries “Islamisation of France”

By Tom Heneghan

PARIS (Reuters) - A far-right French politician launched
his 2007 presidential campaign on Sunday denouncing what he
called the Islamisation of the country and declaring Islam
incompatible with France's secular values.

Philippe de Villiers, head of the anti-immigrant Movement
for France (MPF) party, also charged that Paris's Charles de
Gaulle airport was endangered by Islamist radicals who he said
had infiltrated the ground staff there.

Villiers has stirred up controversy in recent weeks with
increasingly tough statements about Muslims, which critics call
racist and officials describe as exaggerated. France's 5
million Muslims make up the largest such minority in Europe.

"I am the only politician who tells the French the truth
about the Islamisation of France," he said in a Europe 1 radio
interview kicking off his campaign for the election next year.

He plans to publish on Thursday a book entitled "The
Mosques of Roissy" detailing his charges about radicals at the
airport. His main rival on the far-right, National Front head
Jean-Marie Le Pen, has also stepped up his preparations for the
2007 vote.

The daily Le Parisien, in an extensive report on Sunday on
Villiers' charges about Islamist radicals at Charles de Gaulle
airport, quoted officials saying the problem was minimal and
suspicious workers were kept under surveillance.

Aware of the book's imminent publication, Interior Minister
Nicolas Sarkozy and Justice Minister Dominique Perben toured
the airport on Thursday and said only 122 of about 83,000
ground staff were being watched.

"There aren't 122, there are hundreds," said Villiers,
quoting what he said were top secret police reports he used as
the basis for his book and challenging Sarkozy to publish them.


According to a survey to be published by Le Parisien on
Monday, Villiers trails the veteran far-right leader Le Pen,
with 4 percent support against his rival's 14 percent.

Le Pen shocked France in 2002 by knocking Socialist Prime
Minister Lionel Jospin out of the running in the first round of
the presidential election.

He lost to Jacques Chirac, whose 82 percent total in the
runoff included many left-wing votes cast for the incumbent
conservative president in protest against the National Front's
anti-immigrant policies.

Villiers said Islam was incompatible with the country's
democratic system because he said it demanded loyalty to the
ummah (world Muslim community) over any individual state,
wanted to impose sharia Islamic law and promoted jihad, or holy

"I think there are moderate Muslims, they are even the
large majority, but I do not believe there is a moderate
Islam," he said. "I do not think Islam is compatible with the
French republic."

Saying France had to fight what he called its Islamisation,
he said Paris should stop all mosque construction, impose a
citizen's charter demanding the strict separation of religion
and state and freedom to change religions and demand strict
respect for the equality of men and women.

It should also ban all Islamist organizations suspected of
links to terrorism and expel any persons threatening the
security of the French population.

Asked for a pre-publication comment on Villiers' book,
French Muslim Council head Dalil Boubakeur told the weekly Le
Point: "I don't share his vision of French Islam at all."