In a confessional book, “A President Shouldn’t Say That…”, published in 2016, a few months before the 2017 French presidential election, France’s then President François Hollande admitted that France has “a problem with Islam. No one doubts it,” he wrote. He wrote as well that France has a problem with veiled women in public and with mass immigration. Then he added: “How can one avoid a partition? Because that is still what is happening: a partition”.
The “partition” about which Hollande was talking was the partition of France — one part for Muslims and another for non-Muslims.
Hollande’s successor, President Emmanuel Macron, elected to office in 2017, appears to think that this risk of partition is actually the solution. Looking at what he has said and done since his election, one can say that the division of the country is in progress. Officially, of course, Macron continues to be the guardian of the Constitution, which embodies national unity. But step by step, a strategy of the partition of France appears to be at work.
The first step of this partition process was, it seems, to create a new adversary. For Macron, the adversary was not radical Islam, which some see as having murdered hundreds of people in France in recent years, but radical secularism, which has never murdered anybody. In December 2017, for instance, a few months after his election, Macron organized a meeting with the representatives of six religions (Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist) at the presidential Elysée Palace. At this meeting, Macron reportedly “critically questioned the radicalization of secularism.” Not much filtered out of this meeting beyond that little quote — presumably on purpose. In October 2016, before his election, Macron had denounced the defenders of “a spiteful vision of secularism.” After his election, however, the presidential creed has never varied. According to it, political Islam is a not the problem; the resistance to it is.