French far-right presidential candidate gives Ukrainians limited welcome, says Arab refugees still unwelcome

FILE PHOTO: Far-right French presidential candidate Zemmour at the 58th International Agricultural Fair in Paris
FILE PHOTO: French far-right commentator Eric Zemmour, leader of the far-right party ‘Reconquete!’ and candidate for the 2022 French presidential election, attends the 58th International Agricultural Fair (Salon de l’Agriculture) at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris, France, March 4, 2022. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/File Photo

March 8, 2022

PARIS (Reuters) – A far-right French presidential candidate who has fallen behind over past support for Russian President Vladimir Putin said Ukrainians with family ties to France should be given visas, unlike those fleeing conflicts in Arab-Muslim nations.

Zemmour warned an “emotional response” could risk triggering a flood of refugees across Europe after the European Union agreed to give Ukrainians fleeing the war the right to stay for up to three years in the 27- Nations bloc to stay and work.

According to the United Nations, more than two million Ukrainians have already fled the country.

Zemmour welcomed Britain’s tougher approach. Britain on Monday rejected calls to ease visa requirements for Ukrainian refugees.

“If they have ties to France, if they have family in France … we give them visas,” Zemmour told BFM TV.

A writer and polemicist with a criminal record for inciting racial hatred said it was acceptable to have different rules for potential asylum seekers from Europe and those from Arab-Muslim countries.

He describes France as a once great nation now in decline, whose Christian civilization has been eroded by the growing influence of Islam and immigration.

“It’s a matter of assimilation,” Zemmour said. “There are people like us and people who don’t like us. Everyone now understands that Arab or Muslim immigrants are too different from us and that it is becoming increasingly difficult to integrate them.”

“We are closer to Christian Europeans.”

In September 2020, Zemmour tweeted that he supports a “Russian alliance” and that Moscow is “the most reliable ally, even more than the United States, Germany or Great Britain”. He condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russia’s attack on Ukraine – which Moscow calls a “special operation to denazify its neighbor” – and public outrage over the cross-border exodus of Ukrainian citizens have hurt Zemmour in the polls.

Zemmour’s support has fallen 3-4 points to around 12% in voter polls since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Europe’s open reception to fleeing Ukrainians contrasts with a reluctance to take in large numbers of refugees from conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, with some Arab refugees complaining of double standards.

(Reporting by Richard Lough in Paris and Alexandre Minguez in Perpignan; Editing by Jon Boyle) French far-right presidential candidate gives Ukrainians limited welcome, says Arab refugees still unwelcome

Bobby Allyn

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