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Macron warns France won’t remove statues to avoid ‘hateful’ re-writing of history
June 15, 2020
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These comments follow global protests currently taking place over the death of George Floyd after he was brutally murdered at the hands of an American police officer. Many who have been protesting end up targeting statues of historic figures, that most of the time, are associated with slavery or other human rights abuse. In a televised address to the nation, President Macron said: “I will be very clear tonight, compatriots: the Republic won’t erase any name from its history. It will forget none of its artworks, it won’t take down statues.”
This was also the first time that President Macron had spoken out about the issues since George Floyd’s death.
There have been several protests in France, where demonstrators have expressed anger at racial injustice and police brutality, particularly toward minorities from France’s former colonies in Africa.
President Macron did highlight the fact that someones “address, name, the colour of skin” can reduce their chances at succeeding in French society.
He insisted that there should be a fight to ensure that everybody can find their place in society, regardless of ethnic origin or religion.
He promised to be “uncompromising in the face of racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination.”
However, he insisted that France will not take down statues of controversial, colonial-era figures as has happened in some other countries in recent weeks.
Amid calls for taking down statues tied to France’s slave trade or colonial wrongs, Macron said: “the republic will not erase any trace, or any name, from its history … it will not take down any statue.”
“We should look at all of our history together” including relations with Africa, with a goal of “truth” instead of “denying who we are,” Macron said.
President Macron also picks up on the fact the fight against racism has been hijacked by separatists.
“It is necessary to unite around Republican patriotism. We are a nation where everyone—whatever their origin and religion—can find their place.”
The President is still yet to address police violence but said forces of order deserve “the nation’s recognition.”
Just like many governments around the world, Mr Macron is facing pressures to confront police racism.
On Saturday, Paris saw around 15,000 people take to the streets, the latest in a string of French protests galvanized by George Floyd’s death.
In response, the government banned police chokeholds and vowed to stamp out racism among police — but that has now angered police unions.
They say they’re being unfairly painted as white supremacists and staged protests of their own.
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Calls are also mounting to reassess France’s colonial legacy, causing division within Macron’s own camp.
The UK government has also been experiencing similar pressures in the removal of statues of ex-slave traders and those known for abhorrent historical behaviour.
However, just like President Macron, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has made it clear that no statues will be taken down and the government will now be looking to introduce laws for those that are caught damaging them.