Sarkozy’s new Africa policy may have been a disquieting change in course for Africans, yet not a surprise to them. Many Africans were wary of Sarkozy before he took office. As Interior Minister, a job he held twice under President Chirac, Sarkozy was well known for his no-nonsense law-and-order views. At Interior, Sarkozy made remarks that raised flags about his sensitivity toward France’s minorities, particularly those with origins in Africa, either the Maghreb or sub-Saharan Africa. In June 2005, after the killing of a young boy in a troubled Paris suburb with a high number of minorities, Sarkozy said he would clean the area out “with a Karcher,” referring to a German high-pressure, water-hose cleaner. At the time of the November 2005 riots in France, Sarkozy described the rioters as “voyous” (thugs) and “racaille” (scum, rabble), the latter term generating strong critical responses from France’s minorities and from others worried about their Interior Minister’s (and possible next President’s) views on ethnic issues.
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