AFP, October 9, 2007
A star French philosopher attacked President Nicolas Sarkozy’s speechwriter as a “racist” on Tuesday over an address suggesting Africans were to blame for their continent’s problems.
Speaking on France Inter radio, Bernard-Henri Levy attacked presidential advisor Henri Guiano over the contents of a speech delivered by Sarkozy in the Senegalese capital Dakar in July, which sparked an uproar on the continent.
“Guaino, he’s a racist. . . . He’s the one who wrote this vile speech . . . saying that if Africa wasn’t developed it was because Africans were not part of history,” Henri-Levy charged.
The writer stressed that Sarkozy, who “himself is not a racist”, must have “discovered the speech on the plane”.
“To say such a thing, completely forgetting colonisation, the destruction of the country by this shameful period of colonialism, that is pure Guaino, and it is racism,” he said.
In the Dakar speech, Sarkozy argued that “colonisation is not responsible for all of Africa’s current troubles”, saying: “The African peasant only knows the eternal renewal of time, rhythmed by the endless repetition of the same gestures and the same words.
‘Cycle of repetition’
“In this imaginary world where everything starts over and over again, there is no place for human adventure or for the idea of progress.”
“Never does man reach out towards the future. Never does it occur to him to end the cycle of repetition and invent a destiny for himself,” he said.
The speech was attacked as “insulting” by some African media, as well as by the head of the African Union Commission, Alpha Oumar Konare, who said he was “disappointed” with Sarkozy’s vision of Africa.
France’s right-wing government has also come under attack from African leaders over a government immigration bill that would authorise voluntary DNA testing on foreigners wishing to join their families in France.
Konare has described the proposed DNA tests as “unacceptable at an ethical, moral and cultural level”, while Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade said they were “not respectful of human freedom”.
On Monday, an Algerian-born French minister broke ranks with Sarkozy’s government over the immigration issue, warning she was prepared to stand down in protest.
Exploiting immigration ‘disgusting’
“I’m not okay with this DNA business, because I think we are touching something that is not good for our country,” Urban Affairs Minister Fadela Amara, one of a handful of left-wingers in the government, told France Inter.
“Speaking as an immigrant’s daughter, I’ve had enough of seeing immigration exploited all the time, for very clear reasons. I think it’s disgusting,” added the woman’s rights campaigner.
“Quite frankly, the day it really becomes unbearable, the day it gets too hard, I will leave” the government, she said.