Bill Clinton was once feted as the first black American president, while Barack Obama has since been called the first ‘gay’ American president. So it is with equal aplomb that an observer of the recent election of the Socialist Francois Hollande can be dubbed the first Muslim president of France. This is because of the news that ninety-three percent of French Muslims voted for Hollande in the second round of the French presidential election, giving him the margin of victory over the right-of-center Nicolas Sarkozy and nationalist candidate Marine Le Pen.
According to the French website, La Vie, the final tally for the poll showed that Hollande won by only 1.13 million votes. Since an estimated 2 million Muslims voted, the Socialist obviously owes that community a great favor. Photographs found at the French website ‘Observatoire de l’Islamisation’ shows Muslims waving the flags of their native countries and jubilant over the defeat of Sarkozy.
Hollande’s victory can be attributed to the growing good relations between elements of the Socialist Party and other leftist groupings with the Muslim community, even with those segments associated with the notorious Muslim brotherhood. That warming trend has come at a cost to French taxpayers: in 2009, Jean-Marc Ayrault – who represents the Socialist Party in the National Assembly for the city of Nantes – voted in favor of subsidizing a cultural center and mosque in the city in the amount of 200,000 euros. Other cities subsidizing Muslim cultural centers and mosques include Clichy, Créteil, Poitiers, Nantes, Lille, Les Ulis, Roissy-en-Brie, Saint-Etienne in Metz, Rochefort, Angouleme, and La Rochelle. In some cases, land was donated by local government for the purpose of building these cultural centres and mosques.
The Islamic Association of Western France financed the construction of the mosque and cultural center at Nantes in the amount of 4.4 million euros, while the city government kicked in 200,000 euros. So far, the Muslim community has raised 1.5 million euros to pay for the main structure but more donations are expected to flow. Featured at the laying of the cornerstone were Tariq Ramadan, a controversial academic and defender of Iran, as well as the mayor of Nantes, Pascal Bolo.
Observers and critics of the Muslim adherence to the Socialist Party were quick to comment. "This is serious because it is a community vote," said Patrick Devedjian, who represents Sarkozy’s UMP party in Hautes-des-Seine. Drawing an analogy with the United States, Devedjian said, "For example, in the U.S., the attitude of the Republicans led the black community to vote consistently for Democrats. This is a handicap for a political party, and it's also something that is very serious for the unity of a nation. "
Nonetheless, the outgoing UMP party owes its support to voters casting their ballots as a community, despite Devedjian’s objections. The UMP is anchored in the Catholic vote and the Jewish vote. According to a Harris Interactive poll, 79% of Catholics voted for Nicolas Sarkozy, and 92% of French Jews also cast their ballot for him.