The "Unforgiving," "Shrill" French Minister Who Dared to Criticize Car-Burning Hoods

An unfavorable look at Nicolas Sarkozy's reputation "as the country's unforgiving and divisive enforcer of law and order..."

The Times has been holding a grudge against French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy ever since he dared to label as "thugs" the hoodlums that burned cars in Paris suburbs in 2005.

Paris-based Elaine Sciolino covers Sarkozy's successful appeal for his political party's nomination for president in Monday's "French Interior Minister Sails to Presidential Nomination - Sarkozy Reinforces Appeal to the Right," but doesn't provide much positive press about his achievement. The text box reads: "A candidate dealing with a party rift and a stern reputation."

"In an 80-minute acceptance speech in a conference hall packed with 80,000 cheering supporters, Mr. Sarkozy also struggled to shake his reputation as the country's unforgiving and divisive enforcer of law and order, portraying himself as a man of compassion."


"He evoked the classic images of French history, including the Crusades, the Enlightenment, the cathedrals and Joan of Arc, but said little that would appeal to France's millions of Muslims.

"Despite the French republican ideal that ignores religious and ethnic differences, Mr. Sarkozy broke with tradition by referring to the French as the 'heirs of 2,000 years of Christianity.'

"In a veiled reference to Muslims who resist the French model of integration, he said that it was unacceptable to 'want to live in France without respecting and loving France' and learning the French language."


"In his speech, Mr. Sarkozy veered between personal confessions about having to overcome setbacks in life and shrill lecturing, even shouting, as he chopped the air with upraised arms and pointed his fingers at his audience to drive home his message."