“Not all French people eat Kebab because, and I’m sorry to say this, we are neither in Algeria nor in Morocco, or Tunisia.”
Rabat – In bizarrely racist comments, a guest on a morning show on French C-News channel, complained about the growing dominance of non-French cuisine. He said that food like Kebabs and couscous are not culturally French and “Maghrebize” those who consume them.
“So are you troubled by her comments on Kebab are you not?” one of the two hosts asked the guest, referring to a statement by France’s Senegalese-born Government Spokesperson Sibeth Ndiaye.
The Senegalese-born French official, who has repeatedly faced racist attacks and been reproached a “lack of cultural taste” for appearing to espouse a lifestyle which her critics, in most cases avowed French nationalists, say is not “primordially French,” had meant her Kebab statement as a compliment to French multiculturalism, in spite of the persisting challenges in some anti-migrant circles.
But Ndiaye’s praise of the evolution of French society did not sit well with the C-News guest. In response to one of the hosts’ questions about whether the Kebab comment “troubled” him, he unapologetically answered, “Yes.”
When asked to elaborate, he provided what he says is a defense of French culture and cuisine. “No, all French people do not eat Kebab, only some do,” he started softly, adding, “Not all French people eat Kebab because, and I’m sorry to say this, we are neither in Algeria nor in Morocco, or Tunisia.”
Pushed further by the hosts to offer a more compelling defense of why he found it so offensive that French people be associated with eating—and loving—Kebab or couscous, he fumed at the perceived assault on French cuisine and culture in general from foreigners.
To speak as generally as Ndiaye did by saying “French people eat kebab,” he argued, is to imply that “all the French people have been Magrhebized.” The comparison jarred both hosts, leading them to ask, “So are you really saying that eating Kebab makes one Magrhebi, or Maghrebized, to use your own words?”
The response came in a further nationalist zigzag, with the guest saying that he had not meant the comparison as the host appeared to have understood it. However, he firmly said “Yes” in response to the question, only to add that he would have said the same thing of Hamburger or Sushi, “because it is not French cuisine.”
The statements, however jarring, are far from an isolated incident. Reports converge that France is witnessing a resurgence of Islamophobic and racist sentiments in the aftermath of the murder of four Police officers by a colleague who authorities believe had been radicalized.
In the immediate aftermath of the murders, the French government called for “collective vigilance” to fight against radicalization. The country has since seen a surge in Islamophobia and racism, leading some observers to argue that many in France now feel emboldened to let out unapologetically racist remarks.
Last week, a university in the Paris region listed typically Islamic lifestyle choices or ethical recommendations such as growing a beard, not shaking hands with the opposite sex, or wearing a jellaba, as signs of Islamist radicalization.
When called out for the move’s blatant Islamophobia, the president of the university said there was nothing particularly offensive about the university’s concern with preempting radicalization among its staff and students.