Macron Denounces Racism, Wants to Keep France’s Colonial-Era Monuments
The French leader has defended the country’s police saying there could be no freedom and justice without order.
In his first ever address commenting on the international protests against racism following the George Floyd’s death, French President Emmanuel Macron has acknowledged that racism constitutes a problem in France but has backed preserving monuments related to the country’s colonial era.
In recent weeks, demonstrations against racism have spread to France mirroring the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States, and expressing anger at racial injustice and police brutality, particularly toward minorities from France’s former colonies in Africa.
In an address on Sunday, Macron acknowledged that someone’s “address, name, color of skin” can reduce their chances at succeeding in French society, as cited by France24.
“[I vow to be] uncompromising in the face of racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination,” the French President said, while urging a fight to ensure that everyone can “find their place” regardless of ethnic origin or religion.
At the same time, however, Macron confronted the calls to remove French statues of controversial, colonial-era figures or other monuments connected with France’s slave trade or colonialism.
“The republic will not erase any trace, or any name, from its history … it will not take down any statue,” the French leader said.
“We should look at all of our history together [including relations with Africa aiming at truth instead of] denying who we are”, Macron stated.
He also cautioned that the fight against racism had become distorted when it became exploited by what he described as “separatists”.
“It is necessary to unite around Republican patriotism. We are a nation where everyone—whatever their origin and religion—can find their place,” he said.
The French President’s address came after some 15,000 people rallied against racism on Saturday in Paris.
At the same time, several hundred police officers staged a second night of demonstrations against what they see as lack of support on part of the government and in particular Interior Minister Christophe Castaner.
During his address on Sunday night, Macron did not address accusations of police violence. Instead he defended France’s police force.
“[The police] deserve public support and the recognition of the nation for their work. Without Republican order, there cannot be security or freedom,” the French President argued.
“We are not at all reassured by the speech tonight, on the contrary,” an officer demonstrating near the Eiffel Tower said, as cited by AFP.
(Banner Image: Emmanuel Macron on Twitter)