Manuel Valls, who was France’s Prime Minister from 2014 until 2016 as a member of the Socialist Party, has said that the struggle against economic inequality, which was the original focus of Leftist parties, has been replaced by a focus on racial conflict.
Valls made the comments yesterday while speaking about the ongoing rioting in France that has coincided with outbreaks of violence in cities throughout Western Europe and the United States in recent weeks. The violence was sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died while being taken into police custody in Minneapolis three weeks ago. France, which has a large migrant population, has also seen sympathy unrest given that migrants and those who support them frequently accuse the French police of racist brutality.
Valls said that those who draw comparisons between the death of George Floyd in the US and the situation in France are wrong. He feels that while it is true that Floyd’s death was the result of racism, allegations that the French state is systemically racist are false, according to a report by Le Figaro.
“The class struggle is disappearing in favour of the war between races,” Valls said, saying that he intends to sound the alarm about these disturbing new trends. “This war is terrible because it essentialises people according to skin colour. It aggregates, but it also competes with political Islam. It’s an explosive cocktail.”
He further said that those who emphasise supposed racial injustices are engaging in a “logic of victimization,” claiming that elements within several of France’s liberal parties as well as environmentalists are joining in the game.
Speaking of the death of Adama Traoré, a black man who died in an accident while running from the police in 2016, and who has become a symbol for “anti-racist” activists in France, Valls said that his death is being exploited for the sake of “drama.” A demonstration in Paris in Traoré’s name drew approximately 20,000 people, many of whom hurled anti-Semitic slurs at counter-protesters, as previously reported by Voice of Europe.
“I obviously make a distinction between the organisers of these demonstrations and those who go there in good faith, who are indignant about racism and want to denounce it,” Valls said. He also defended the French police from accusations of racism, claiming that their values are republican.
Olivier Faure, the First Secretary of the Socialist Party, said he was disturbed by Valls’ statements, claiming that what he said resembles “far Right” rhetoric.
After leaving office in 2016, Valls left the Socialist Party and joined with President Emmanuel Macron’s La République En Marche group in the French Assembly and supported Macron in the 2017 election. Today he is a Councilor in the municipal government of Barcelona, Spain.
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