‘Problem with Islam’: Tell-all book reveals Hollande’s views from migrants to Sarkozy

French President Francois Hollande © Philippe Wojazer
French President Francois Hollande admitted there is a “problem with Islam,” according to a new book based on recorded talks with the leader. He also believes there are too many immigrants in the country, and accused Nicolas Sarkozy of “always fussing.”

The new book ‘A President Shouldn’t Say That…’ was written by journalists Gerard Davet and Fabrice Lhomme, who have met with Hollande 61 times since he became president. The book, which is due out on Thursday, contains private conversations with the leader in which he made a number of controversial statements.

In one of the conversations, Hollande reportedly said there is a “problem with Islam, no one doubts it.”

“It is not Islam that is problematic in the sense that it is a dangerous religion, but because it wants to assert itself as a religion in the French Republic… it can also be a problem if Muslims do not report acts of radicalization or if the imams act in an anti-Republican way,” he said.

Referring to Muslim women, Hollande said that “the veiled women of today will be the Marianne of tomorrow,” referring to a statue which stands in the Place de la Republique in Paris and serves as a symbol of France, liberty, and reason.

The French president went on to elaborate on what he meant – that Muslim women can fully integrate into France if they remove their headscarves and veils.

“In a way if we can offer the conditions for her self-fulfillment, she will free herself from her veil and become a French woman, whilst remaining religious, if she wants to be, capable of having an ideal,” Hollande said.

“This woman would prefer liberty to subjugation. The veil might act as a protection for her now, but tomorrow she may not need it to be reassured about her presence in society.”

Speaking on immigration – another hot topic in France – Hollande said in one of the cited public speeches that he believes there are “too many immigrant arrivals who should not be there.”

He also targeted France’s former president Nicolas Sarkozy, who is likely to be his opponent if he runs in next year’s presidential election. Hollande called the ex-president a “Duracell bunny” who is “always fussing.”

The insults towards Sarkozy did not stop there. Hollande also called him “little Charles de Gaulle,” referring to his height of 5’5” (165cm) – a topic which the ex-president is reportedly sensitive about.

He even mocked Sarkozy’s design preferences, calling his upholstering of the Elysée Palace bathroom as in “terrible bad taste.”

Leaving no stone left unturned, the book also cites Hollande having a go at the French football team, accusing its players of needing “brain gym” and saying they have “no values.”

“They went from badly educated kids to wealthy stars, with no preparation,” he said, criticizing the “ghettoization, segmentation and ethnicization” of French football.

While it is not known if Hollande will be seeking to mend relationships with footballers, Muslims, immigrants, and Sarkozy following the book’s release, he at least attempted to do so with two of the country’s highest ranking judges, after he was quoted saying that he despises judges who “don’t like politicians” and “make up an institution of cowardice.” The French leader invited the judges to see him late Wednesday, according to a tweet from the top appeals court.

The reactions have unsurprisingly started to roll in, with Socialist Senate member Didier Guillaume saying he refuses to speak of the president’s “cynicism.”

France’s top judge, Bertrand Louvel, has also delivered his take on the book, slamming Hollande.

“The President of the Republic has let comments be published, without denying them, in which he calls the judiciary a ‘cowardly institution’ where some ‘hide away,’ ‘play the virtuous’ and ‘dislike politics,’ Louvel said as quoted by Reuters.

However, fellow Socialist party member Odette Herviaux said he agreed with Hollande on his Islam position, encouraging people to “not to take his words out of context, as was done with his sentence on the veil and Marianne.”

Footballers have also chimed in, with former French international and World Cup winner Emmanuel Petit saying: “For too long now, we athletes, the footballers, have been looked down upon with a lot of condescension by our ‘dear’ politicians.”

“I would give them gym classes for the brain and even probity for the political classes. Notably in intellectual honesty, or in just honesty full stop.”

Petit continued by saying footballers, unlike politicians, “don’t steal money from people,” but rather “earn our money honestly.”