French President Emmanuel Macron proceeded to a ministerial reshuffle last week and nominated Gérald Darmanin as the new Minister of Interior. It is important to note, that in the French political system, the Minister of the interior is in charge of the cults and religious affairs. The early days of Darmanin’s mandate have been marked by the polemics surrounding his nomination,since he was accused of rape in 2009. He was exculpated, but another juridical procedure has begun a month ago.
“My first name is Gérald, my second name is Moussa”.
Many French newspapers have quoted this introduction during his first public talk in the French Assembly. The 37 years old Minister – the youngest one to occupy such position – firstly underlined what he considered his “originality”, recalling his Algerian origins by paying tribute to his grandfather, who was an Algerian “tirailleur” (rifleman) during the Second World War. “My grand father prayed Allah and was wearing a (French) republican uniform” he declared. Darmanin therefore payed tribute to the assimilationist French system where an the son of an immigrant can become minister of the Republic. He added: “ “yes” to the freedom of religion, but “no” to caricature, no to political Islam”.
He also made it clear that he will devote his mandate to the security of French citizens: and fight against political Islam, a “mortal enemy to democracy”. His speech was in line with President Macron views, as the President expressed last February his goal to fight the “separatism”.
Previous statement on Islam
In the current context of the Black Lives Matters movement, and a widespread mistrust against police forces, Darmanin has conveyed his support toward police officers. Yet, he has not clearly expressed his “road map” regarding French Islam. However, some hints can found in a four years old document called “Plea for a French Islam. Contribution to secularism” (“Plaidoyer pour un islam français. Contribution pour la laïcité”. At the time, as the mayor of Tourcoing – he notably drew parallels with the Napoleonian politics towards Judaism and asserted the idea to « impose » a similar concordat to Islam, to stem the « risk of civil war ».
In the forthcoming weeks, Darmanin should meet the representatives of the different cults, who have remained silent until now.