Thursday, December 22, 2005

Oh no, Sarkozy losing the French Celebs

France: If that is not a ringing endorsement for everyone else to vote for him nothing else will be.

Mr Sarkozy, whose injudicious use of language was partly blamed for exacerbating the recent urban riots, is now being abandoned by his friends in high places. Worse still, many of them are lining up to publicly put the boot into the man who hopes to be president in 2007. The tennis player turned pop star Yannick Noah, actor and comedian Jamel Debbouze, who starred in Amélie, rapper Joey Starr and film director Luc Besson - of Subway, Nikita, Big Blue and Leon fame - are among those attacking Mr Sarkozy, who has been compared to far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen and Napoleon. "Calling people racaille, I've not heard anything so violent since Le Pen and his hatred of anyone who is different," Besson told the film magazine Premier. In an interview with Paris Match, Noah - recently voted France's most popular personality - declared: "If Sarkozy succeeds [in 2007], then I'm off." Even Debbouze, who had previously expressed qualified support for the minister, condemned him. The comic described the minister as "a bourgeois who arrives, cameras in tow, looks at the little rebels and tells them: 'I'm going to clean you out, you bunch of rabble'." ....The former footballer Eric Cantona told the Observer: "It's not easy growing up in a bad neighbourhood. People look at you and treat you in a certain way. In France we are capable of celebrating a man like Napoleon, who brought back slavery. Today he has been replaced by a man who, for me, is Le Pen with a mask: Sarkozy." Cantona is not the first to make the comparison with the Front National leader. The Aids campaign group Act-Up has pasted posters around Paris featuring Mr Sarkozy and the slogan "Vote Le Pen". In his blog, director Matthieu Kassovitz, whose film La Haine (Hate) was set in the banlieues, said: "Like [George] Bush, Sarkozy is not defending an idea, he is responding to fears that he himself has put in peoples' heads." After he described the minister as a "little Napoleon in the making", Mr Sarkozy took the unusual step of replying, saying: "Apart from your caricaturist and provocative shots targeted at me, I'm responding to you personally because I believe in the virtue of debate and exchange." He invited the director to "continue the exchange". In its editorial, Le Figaro said: "It's not a fashion, it's an epidemic. It's impossible to turn on the television or radio without hearing a singer, actor or sportsman railing against the interior minister." Despite this, the paper noted that opinion polls showed that many French people agreed with the minister. And it pointed out that Mr Sarkozy could still count on Gérard Depardieu for support. Whether that will sway the voters in 2007 is anyone's guess.
If the cultural elites are against you, you're doing fine.

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