Much was expected from the Minister of the Interior, responsible for cults, to combat the various forms of radicalization that prepare for the transition to the terrorist act. Like the dissolution of associations that participate in the dissemination of radical thought. Like some mosques that participate in its manufacture and some radical personalities who embody it and propagate it in what is known as the lost territories of the republic. On all of these issues, Minister Darmanin and President Macron have demonstrated an unwavering determination to crack down and punish.
But it was far from imagining that Gerald Darmanin was going to venture into what looks like a quicksand ground. The supermarket shelves offering products compatible with certain religions.
The Ministers comments on BFMTV on Tuesday night are so novel that it seems unavoidable to quote them in order to understand its significance.
Gérald Darmanin said he was “shocked to go into a hypermarket and see upon arrival that there is a shelf of such community cuisine, and such other cuisine next door”. And he adds imperturbable: “this is how communitarianism begins”. And for the minister, imperturbable, to also mention “community clothing”, referring to the Decathlon sign who had put for sale and then removed a jogging hijab.
Gérald Darmanin attacked companies with international dimensions, which, in his view, are digging the path of communitarianism when they encourage and invest in a particular sector called community. Darmanin attributes them a huge responsibility: “In civil society, there are people who need to understand that it is not because we have market shares, flattering some low instincts, that we are doing a service to the common good”
And to mark the strength of his conviction in this matter, Darmanin makes this solemn appeal: “I very modestly call on business leaders to realize that they can also contribute to public peace and to the fact that we can fight separatism”.
This angle of attack chosen by Minister Darmanin surprised many. It is only necessary to see the incredulous and sometimes blurred reactions to realize the magnitude of this announcement.
By focusing on the Community-labelled agri-food industry, Darmanin is tackling a sector that weighs €1 700 billion in assets worldwide in 2015 and probably double it in 2021.
And to say that President Macron had even considered, following reports commissioned from Hakim El Karoui and the Montaigne Institute, to finance Muslim worship through sales and taxes imposed on hallal products.
Moreover, one of the few ideas perceived as immediately operational to replace foreign funding for Muslim worship in France was this possible tax on halal products linked to its daily exercise and consumption.
For Darmanin, a slice of turkey, exposed in a halal-labeled section of a supermarket, contributes seriously to Community drift. “I understand very well that halal meat is in a supermarket. (…) Why special shelves? Thats what I regret.”
“In my constituency in Châteaulin, there is a large company that exports 500,000 tons of chicken a year to Saudi Arabia, and it is halal chicken,” and “it allows entire chains to live. So this is not a subject,” reacted strongly by the President of the National Assembly, Richard Ferrand.
Minister Darmanins remarks are like a piece of reflection, marked more by the seal of the turmoil of the moment than the depth required by the gravity of the cruel period that France is going through after the shocking assassination of Samuel Pity.