- The French president last week told a Moroccan asylum seeker to "go home"
- He told her he could not help everyone
- Some have suggested his tone was "shameful"
- Many others pointed out Morocco is not at war
by Rosie Alfatlawi
“If you are not in danger, you should go back to your country,” French President Emmanuel Macron told a Moroccan asylum seeker last week.
“I cannot give French papers to everyone,” he continued. “Otherwise how do I deal with all the people who are already here and who cannot find work?”
Emmanuel Macron : "Je ne peux pas donner des papiers à tous les gens qui n'en n'ont pas" pic.twitter.com/Zflw28iuaU— CNEWS (@CNEWS) November 21, 2017
When the young woman explained that her mother and father were living in France, Macron responded: “But you can come visit them regularly, if you want.”
“We take our share, but we can not welcome all the misery of the world,” he said quoting former French Prime Minister Michel Rocard in 1989.
The incident, which took place on Nov. 21 as Macron attended a charity event in Paris, has received mixed responses.
There has been criticism from some for what was seen as his harsh response.
"Instead of giving her a chance to prove herself in her studies, abilities, character, he just cuts her off and shuts her up," tweeted @wifidimples. Another tweeter said the French president's words were "shameful."
His direct style received praise, however, from many others in Western Europe where immigration is a contentious issue.
"What’s the problem with what he said? He told her her parents will be taken care of... if there is no more war or whatever where she lives why can’t she go back?" suggested @kgilbey93.
Others speculated that the encounter was designed to appeal to the right in France. Centrist Macron beat Marine Le Pen of far-right Front National to the presidency in May.
One tweet read: “well done, a phrase Le Pen could have uttered.”
What are the odds this was staged? Macron is plummeting in the polls. He is pushing farther and farther right. This shows the true unapologetic face of neoliberalism. It has no borders.— Aidan Mhaoldomhnaigh (@aidan_moloney) November 27, 2017
Certainly, the sole member of French parliament for minor right-wing party Debout la France, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan criticized Macron for not going far enough.
“In France 80% of those whose asylum claims have been denied remain on French soil. Macron does nothing about it,” he tweeted.
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But Macron’s approach here is not new.
It had previously been noted that the French President has drawn the line between asylum seekers and “economic migrants” who “come from safe countries and follow economic migration routes, feeding ferrymen, organised crime and sometimes terrorism.”
This approach has been criticized for failing to recognize the difficulties involved for an individual in proving that he or she requires asylum.
“Factors for migration are multidimensional, we can’t put them easily in the box ‘economic’ or the box ‘asylum’. It’s too simplistic, it cannot really work,” Maryse Tripier, professor in sociology of immigration at Université Paris Diderot told the New Statesman in August.
While hailed by many as a liberal, Macron’s immigration policies have faced criticism from French rights groups.
Christine Lazerges, president of the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH), said in October: “The CHCDH is sounding alarm bells because we believe that the government’s current immigration policy is fuelling xenophobic sentiment in France and eroding people’s trust in democracy.”
France, which was the colonial power in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, is home to large numbers of individuals of North African descent. They have historically faced issues with social segregation and racist attitudes.
While Macron firmly positioned himself last week as an ally of francophile Lebanon after he hosted then resigned Prime Minister Saad Hariri, his comments seem to show less warmth towards other colonial ties in MENA.
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