Macron Islamophobe?

Macron Islamophobe?

French foreign policy appears driven by a fear Europe risks being subsumed by Islam. What exactly is driving French President Emmanuel Macron’s foreign policy, Politico tries to figure out in the article Macron’s Islamophobic undercurrent.

He says he wants a more geopolitical Europe, capable of facing up to an increasingly dangerous world. But then it is hard to explain his decision to block accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania. During his campaign for president, Macron presented himself as standing for a return to Europe’s basic, liberal, democratic values. Why did France scupper talks with the Western Balkans? The real reason for Macron’s opposition is that Albania is a majority Muslim country and North Macedonia has a very large and politically active Muslim minority.

Look carefully, and it’s not hard to spot an undercurrent of Islamophobia in many of Macron’s recent foreign policy decisions. In an interview with the Economist last week he suddenly suggested that his real problem in the Balkans was not Albania and North Macedonia, but Bosnia-Herzegovina — specifically the “ticking time bomb” of returning jihadists. Never mind that Bosnia-Herzegovina has sent six or seven times fewer “foreign fighters” to Syria than France or that the vast majority of them were women and children. 

Macron is not a vulgar Islamophobe — there are many in France who are — but he seems increasingly convinced that Europe is in danger of being absorbed by Islam and thus needs to close the door to Turkey, “dangerous" Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania and North Macedonia. A large unassimilated Muslim community scares him more than anything. Or maybe Macron is being driven by domestic politics ahead of another round of local elections next year. Maybe France is now so tilted to the right on the question of Islam that Macron feels tempted — or forced — to play along. Alas, Islamophobia, no matter how philosophical, cultured or strategic, is still just Islamophobia.