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16 Oct, 2016 09:00

‘We persuaded Hollande to give us honest opinion about Islam’ – author of ‘scandalous’ book

‘A President Shouldn’t Say That,’ a new ‘scandalous’ book about Francois Hollande based on recorded talks with the French president, could affect his future, one of its authors told RT, saying that some of his comments go against his official rhetoric.

“Some of his phrases can harm the president, perhaps prevent him from declaring his candidacy [for the next presidential elections],” Le Monde investigative journalist Fabrice Lhomme, and one of the book’s authors, told RT.

“But perhaps, after you have read the whole book, you realize that there are other things, other phrases that he said, other analyses from us, and some other information in his favor. So, in the long run, when you’ve read the entire book, I’m not sure it is dispiriting for François Hollande. I think that in the book there are very annoying things for François Hollande and some very positive things for him. This will be up to the French, up to all readers to decide whether the overall impression is very negative or very positive,” Lhomme said.

The journalist described the book as “scandalous” because it contains a number of statements the French president made that do not correspond with his rhetoric in official statements or in other interviews.

“This is the main merit of the book. We need to pay tribute to Francois Hollande. He expresses himself honestly. People all over the world nowadays have a right to expect their leaders to speak the language of truth,” he added.

In one of the conversations revealed in the 663-page book, Hollande acknowledged that “there is a problem [in France] with Islam.”

“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 added.

Not so long ago, the French leader painted a different picture of Islam, however.

“Can Islam learn to live alongside secularism? Just as Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism did before it. Can it accept the separation of faith and law which is the founding principle of secularism? My answer is, yes, clearly yes,” Hollande optimistically noted last month.

Referring to Muslim women, the French president noted in the book that “the veiled women of today will be the Marianne of tomorrow.” Marianne is the national symbol of the French Republic, which stands for freedom and is displayed at many public places across the country.

“Islam is a very delicate subject in France,” Lhomme told RT.

“So, when politicians talk about it, their words have been well-thought-out, agreed on, and are considered to be politically correct. And this doesn’t correspond much with what they really think. We tried and I think we’ve succeeded to persuade the president to give us his honest opinion about Islam. It might shock you, might take you aback, but at least he spoke honestly.”

The consequences of this book are going to be “very large,” Patricia Chagnon, a National Front municipal councilor in the town of Abbeville, told RT.

“People from his own party, from his own government say, ‘oh god, it’s going to be very, really hard for this guy to run for another presidency.’”