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Eric Zemmour enters the race for presidency in France

Eric Zemmour, France, French presidential primary, French presidential

Politics

Eric Zemmour enters the race for presidency in France

Eric Zemmour has sympathetic informants in the police and judiciary who supply their own figures to him. Would Macron, who has claimed Zemmour is wrong, care to make public the figures he has on who commits the crimes – rapes, murders, house burglaries, street crime? Writes Hugh Fitzgerald

In half a year, the French presidential primary will be held, and the two candidates with the most votes will then face off against each other. Until a few months ago, it was assumed that Marine Le Pen would be the candidate of the Islamocritical right. But now someone much more formidable, long known to the French public as an essayist, polemicist, political talk show host and guest, sometime Le Figaro columnist, and author of two bestsellers about the state of France today (Le Suicide français and the just-appeared La France n’a pas dit son dernier mot — “France has not said its last word”) — has appeared. In the running. His name is Eric Zemmour, and he is almost certain to surpass Le Pen as the standard bearer of the intelligent French right (which now includes many old-fashioned liberals), that right which recognizes that the large-scale presence of Muslims in France has created a situation, both for the French and for other, non-Muslim immigrants, which is far more unpleasant, expensive, and physically dangerous, than would be the case without that large-scale presence. Quick-witted, profound, lucid, coruscating in his criticism, Eric Zemmour on television or in print can run circles around his opponents; this self-described “Berber Jew” born in Montreuil of parents who left Algeria during the war, has become the paladin of those many French who are justifiably anxious about the Muslim presence in their country.

A recent article in the British The New Statesman describes Zemmour’s sudden rise in the political ratings: “Eric Zemmour is eating Marine Le Pen alive,” by Jonathan Miller, The Spectator, September 28, 2021:

French opinion polls are best taken with a generous bucket of sel de Guérande but this evening’s [Sept. 27] drop of a Harris Interactive survey of intentions to vote in the 2022 presidential election might genuinely be described as explosive.

This poll contains the crucial assumption that Xavier Bertrand will emerge as the candidate of the centre-right Les Républicains, but it nevertheless suggests that trends are moving in unpredicted directions. Bertrand is currently only marginally ahead of Eric Zemmour, whose insurgent campaign from the right is starting to profoundly unsettle the conventional wisdom.

If Zemmour, who still hasn’t officially announced his candidacy, continues to climb and Marine Le Pen to decline, something extraordinary might happen. Zemmour might even make it into the second round, besting Bertrand and setting up a contest with Macron that nobody had predicted.

There are 195 days remaining until the first round of voting.

Efforts to cancel and demonise Zemmour are plainly failing. He’s sold 200,000 copies of his new book in a week, even after he was cancelled by his traditional publisher Albin Michel.

He has been banned from appearing on his own nightly TV show by the broadcasting regulator, which appears to have invented a new rule just to silence him. And he’s been physically threatened. Yet he has practically doubled his support in less than a month, from 7 per cent to 13 per cent.

Zemmour is loathed by the bien pensants of Paris and condemned as a rabble-rousing rightist, although his formidable intellect and powerful polemical talents are widely acknowledged. An unashamed defender of French values against Islamic ideology, this son of Algerian Jewish exiles has been convicted on numerous occasions for his attacks on Islam.

He says immigrants are responsible for up to 1,000 violent crimes a day in France. A figure denied by Macron’s Interior Ministry.

Zemmour said immigrants are responsible for “up to 1,000 violent crimes.” He said “up to 1,000,” which is different from asserting precisely “1,000.” He knows, of course, that It is impossible to be certain, because the French state does not release figures on the religion or ethnicity of criminals.

Zemmour has sympathetic informants in the police and judiciary who supply their own figures to him. Would Macron, who has claimed Zemmour is wrong, care to make public the figures he has on who commits the crimes – rapes, murders, house burglaries, street crime? Would he care to make public the percentage of prisoners who are Muslims? Those who estimate such things based, for example, on how many prisoners observe Ramadan, or how many have Muslim names, believe that 80% of prisoners in French jails are Muslim, while only 6-8% of the population is Muslim.

I hear that there are now as many as 200 ‘friends’ of Zemmour working for his shadow campaign and this week they rented extensive office space in central Paris. Fundraisers are active not just in France, but in London, Brussels and Geneva.

Marine Le Pen, who had been presumed the inevitable opponent of President Emmanuel Macron, is in free fall. During June she was polling as high as 28 per cent. Her support has collapsed to 16 per cent – awful news for Macron as she was always his preferred opponent. Zemmour is eating her campaign alive.

Macron, who has yet to declare officially that he’s a candidate for re-election, although he’s campaigning the length and breadth of France dispensing public funds like confetti, is stuck at 23 per cent – an uncomfortable score should he have to face a more competent opponent than Le Pen in the second round of voting.

Some of the more excitable French commentators wonder whether the President might fail to get to round two. I think this is probably overblown.

Anne Hidalgo, presumed candidate of the socialist party, is stuck on 7 per cent, well behind Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the hard-left France Insoumise. The left is already demanding that she step aside, claiming Mélenchon could even get to the second round with help from the socialists and greens. Let me predict that this scenario is wildly improbable.

Where does that leave Macron? His opposition seems atomised. The polls, especially those based on hypotheses, are of only limited value.

Abstentionism remains arguably the biggest party in France, which makes all forecasts treacherous. The friends of Zemmour suspect, however, that they can mobilise hitherto ‘low-propensity voters’. If that’s true, Macron could find himself with a real challenge from the right.

Zemmour has not minced words on Islam. Here are some of his remarks, which visitors to this site will not need to have explained:

“We are no longer in France in many suburbs. French people have become foreigners in their own country.”

“All Muslims, whether they say it or not, consider jihadists to be good Muslims.”

“Islam is incompatible with the republic and France. Islam and Islamism are exactly the same thing. What we call Islamists, those refer to themselves as Muslims, when you say Daesh, and one refers to the Islamic State. Why?

Because they apply Islam, everything they do is supported by Islamic suras. If they slaughter adversaries, it is written in the Qur’an that it is necessary to slaughter Jews and Christians. Muhammad himself killed many, and you know that for all Muslims he’s the perfect man who should be imitated.”

“In some neighborhoods, we do not live the French way but the Muslim way. Most women are covered, men wear outfits like the Prophet in the seventh century, we keep a close eye on young girls and forbid them from going out with this or that boy, you are a whore if you wear a miniskirt, we watch young men to see if they drink alcohol. We can no longer call this France.”

“Islam is not a religion, it’s a law, it is a right and it is a nation; it is not a religion.”

“If tomorrow there were 30 or 40 million French Muslims determined to veil their wives and apply Shariah laws, the minimum rules of laïcité (freedom of public institutions) could only be preserved by a dictatorship.”

Dozens of his media appearances, over the past six years, can be found online. I found particularly devastating his debate with the politically correct and therefore hostile Patrick Cohen, and with the hard-left anti-Israel Jean-Luc Melenchon.

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