LONDON: A far-right polemicist and writer expected to run for the French presidency has sparked fresh controversy by calling for a ban on traditional Muslim names such as Muhammad.
Famed for his strident TV appearances and essays, Eric Zemmour has created a cult of personality through calls to drastically cut immigration and enforce integration in France. He often calls for Muslims to adopt traditional French customs and culture.
Ahead of the launch of his latest book “La France N’a Pas Dit Son Dernier Mot” (France has not yet said its last word), Zemmour said if he was elected president, he would restore a law — introduced by Napoleon Bonaparte and abolished by socialist President Francois Mitterrand in 1993 — that only permitted names from the Christian calendar of saints and those from “ancient history.”
Zemmour added: “I will re-establish the 1803 law. A French man will no longer have the right to call his son Muhammad.”
He said: “I think that we have to make French people again. Previous generations of immigrants changed their names (to adopt French ones). There is no reason why the new ones should not do the same. What upsets me is that after three generations, people are still calling their children Muhammad.”
Abdoulaye Kanté, a Mali-born French police officer, phoned a radio station to react to Zemmour’s comments.
“Would Eric Zemmour be capable of saying that to Ahmed Merbet (a police officer killed by Islamist terrorists in 2015 in Paris) or to Imad ibn Ziaten (a soldier shot dead by an Islamist terrorist in Toulouse in 2012)?” said Kanté.