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David Abbasi, With the French Prime Minister, Jean Pierre Raffarin...


Last week gave me a chance to meet with the French Prime Minister, Jean Pierre Raffarin, in order to discuss the growth and development of Islam and Islamic Republicans in the Muslim World and question him in regard to these issues.

The French Prime Minister made a speech about laicism, republics and people power in France and how it brings him pride as the leader of the government that the wearing of the hijab or any other religious symbol is prohibited and how a number of Islamic extremist leaders were deported from France.

I asked the French Prime Minister- “with the acknowledgement that for laicism and people power an identified antagonist regime exists which is in the form of a religious regime, in particular, a sort of political Islam whereby in the past 28 years we have witnessed
the establishment of approximately ten Islamic Republics in a number of Muslim countries, with all this, what serious proposal has France- as the only laic country in Europe- made in order to halt the phenomenons of the Islamic Republic?”
Recognizing that Islam, since its existence, has been a political organization and to this day has been in the struggle to achieve political power, where possible, and tomorrow we will witness the establishment of the Islamic Republic systems of government in such countries as Lebanon and Syria…

The French Prime Minister, who was seated fairly close to me smiled and began to respond to my plea. He said- “we must, first of all, decide and understand whether we accept the system of democracy and people power, or not?! This is an issue which is a concern in Islamic countries; different ideologies and religious beliefs hold their general elections in order to suit their own systems and so we must be aware of how far we can intervene with other countries political and democratic matters. Without any doubt, the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese Prime Minister- a friend of democracy, and in particular a friend of France- is bound to disorder the future of Lebanon. However we will try our utmost effort in order to prevent any initial progress. For instance, we have announced Hezbollah television illegal and identified them as a sect”.


The French Prime Minister avoided having to turn to an issue which would undermine the government of Jacques Chirac who, since their rise to power, has been in effort to create a more bonding relationship with Islamic countries. Of course, the closer we are drawn to the French Presidential Election 2007 the ups and downs of voting, and the motive of political bodies will undergo changes in turn. Nevertheless, this argument has been brought to the political agenda in France many times where the question remains- How it is that France- the only laic country in Europe- gives particular “values” to religion?  
In recent days, the hot topic of a European constitution has created uproar; many critics have objected to this new law as they feel that the issue of laicism has not been considered enough and so they fear that by the end of the month the majority of the French public will vote ‘No’ in the referendum on a European Constitution. As a result this ‘No’ will defeat Chirac and his powerful political party and, on the other hand, the French Socialist Party will be defeated and split due to the fact that the leader of the Socialist Party is in favour of a ‘Yes’ vote but other political figures within the party are in support of a ‘No’ vote. In any case, if a ‘No’ vote is declared, Laurent Fabius from the Socialist Party will have the chance to stand as a Presidential candidate in the 2007 Presidential Election.

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