In Wake of Anti-Semitic, Anti-Muslim Attacks, President Calls for Religious Tolerance

July 9, 2004

Source: The Guardian,11882,1257445,00.html

On July 9, 2004 The Guardian reported, "The French president, Jacques Chirac, made a national appeal for racial and religious tolerance yesterday as part of a campaign to tackle an alarming surge in racist attacks. In his strongest condemnation yet of the desecration of Muslim and Jewish cemeteries over the past three months, Mr Chirac called for urgent action to stem a rise in the 'despicable and odious acts of hatred soiling our nation'. The setting for this keynote speech was selected to add greater resonance to the president's words. Mr. Chirac travelled to a village in the hills of south-western France famous for the bravery of its inhabitants who risked their lives during the second world war to shelter Jews from the Nazis and French collaborators. As many as 5,000 people were saved from transportation to death camps as a result. 'Discrimination, anti-semitism, racism - all kinds of racism are spreading insidiously,' Mr Chirac said. 'I ask [the French] to remind their children of the mortal danger of fanaticism, of exclusion, of cowardliness and resignation to extremism _ All these acts reflect the darkest side of human nature. They are unworthy of France. I will do everything to stop them.'"