French TV star fired after call for Muslims' deportation to avoid ‘chaos & civil war’
A top French TV presenter has been sacked for saying that Muslims should be deported to avoid “chaos and civil war.” His comments have sparked a heated debate, with some on the right defending him and leftists denouncing him as a racist.
Eric Zemmour was dropped from the iTELE channel from the chat show he has been a participant of for over a decade. This followed remarks he made, published in Italy’s Corriere della Sera, where he said, “Muslims kept themselves to the suburbs” and the “French were forced to move out,” The Local reported. He also stated that the 5 million or so Muslims living in France “should be deported to avoid chaos and civil war.”
L'éviction d'Eric Zemmour d'itelé n 'est pas une bonne nouvelle pour la démocratie #policedelapensée
— Eric Ciotti ن (@ECiotti) December 20, 2014
The removal of Eric Zemmour from iTELE is not good for democracy
The TV station’s decision to fire Zemmour, born to Jewish parents in Algeria who emigrated to France in the 1950s, was welcomed by the journalists union SNJ, who said the move was a “strong decision” and was also supported by the anti-racism watchdog SOS Racisme.
What an ugly French bigot Eric Zemmour yet hailed as a hero by some in increasingly Islamophobic Europe http://t.co/2OoLhe79pA
— Antony Loewenstein (@antloewenstein) December 22, 2014
The channel's director, Celine Pigalle, told French newspaper Le Figaro, where Zemmour was also a columnist, “We are very careful to respect freedom of expression.” Meanwhile, Bruno Le Roux, who is the leader of the Socialist Party, said Zemmour’s thinking seemed to date back 70 years to the period around World War II.
“It's time for TV shows and newspaper columns to cease harboring such statements,” Le Roux wrote on his blog. “Islamophobia is racism and is not part of the Republic.”
The interview with Corriere della Sera was conducted two months ago, but the scandal only came to light when it was translated by the left-wing politician Jean-Luc Melenchon, who used to be France’s Education Minister.
Melenchon published the interview on his blog in French in which he said Zemmour was calling for the “deportation” of Muslims in France, even those who had been born in the country.
In its report, The Independent noted that the word “deportation” has a dark history in France, as it is associated with the sending of hundreds of thousands of Jews during the Second World War to death camps across Europe.
Zemmour says that he never used the word in this context. Meanwhile, the Italian journalist who conducted the interview said the TV star did not mean that Muslims should be deported, but repatriated.
— Marine Le Pen (@MLP_officiel) December 19, 2014
The censorship of Zemmour by i-Tele is louthsome
The TV personality was supported by the far-right National Front leader, Marine Le Pen, who said the move to fire Zemmour was “loathsome censorship” in a tweet.
Zemmour is also well known for his bestselling book, “The French Suicide,” which has sold in excess of 250,000 copies. It touched on problems in French society, which he believes stem from increased immigration, feminism and homosexuality.
The TV star’s sacking came a day before a mentally unstable driver, shouting “Allahu Akbar,” deliberately crashed into a crowd of pedestrians in the French city of Dijon, which left two people in seriously injured in hospital.
On Saturday, a French man armed with a knife stormed a police station at Joue-les-Tours near the city of Tours and stabbed three police officers, also reportedly shouting “God is great” in Arabic. The attacker was shot dead by police.