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I don’t quite get this.

Rama Yade rose to the position of a junior minister in a recent center-right French government; she even ran for president. But when she failed to win that election, she left France for good and got a think tank job here in DC.

In France, in other words, she had a high-level government position; in the States, she’s an administrator at one of dozens of research firms. Why did she leave France?

When Ms. Yade — born in Senegal in a Muslim family — was appointed a junior government minister in 2007, she believed it would be a “starting point.” But after an unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 2017, she left for the United States.

“My glass ceiling was political,” said Ms. Yade, 45, who is now senior director of Africa at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank.

For a lot of people, a ministerial position wouldn’t be a bad ending point for a career, but let’s go with her reasoning. Because she couldn’t get past the barrier to being president of France, she left the country and took an administrative position here…

Sorry, I can’t go with her reasoning. The current French government has a respectable number of high-ranking people who were born into Muslim families, or who have some form of Muslim identity, including the Interior Minister. It looks as though Emmanuel Macron will be re-elected, so there would seem to be opportunities for Yade – and Macron is center-left.

So here’s the deal:

To [Rama Yade, a junior minister for human rights during the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy], the [current French] presidential race’s focus on immigration was the “consecration of 20 years of deterioration” in a political culture obsessed with national identity. She had quit her political party — for which [Valerie] Pécresse is now the candidate — because, Ms. Yade said, it had become “very hostile to anything that did not represent a fantasy version of French identity.”

Yade is certainly right to notice a rightward tendency among some in the French public, and indeed growing hostility toward Muslims. Millions of ordinary French Muslims have taken the hit for terrorist bloodbaths in the center of Paris, and for the growing religious radicalization of cities and towns located in one of the most proudly secular countries on earth.

For many non-Muslim French, it’s an obsession with religious identity that has messed things up; and as for fantasy versions of French identity — all nations pump themselves up with glorious versions of themselves, and I’m not sure the French form of this syndrome is worse than anyone else’s.

Margaret Soltan, February 13, 2022 7:06PM
Posted in: democracy

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