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

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By Reuters
French far-right presidential candidate offers limited welcome to Ukrainians, says Arab refugees still unwelcome
French far-right presidential candidate offers limited welcome to Ukrainians, says Arab refugees still unwelcome   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2022

PARIS – A French far-right presidential contender, on the back foot over past support for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said Ukrainians with family links to France should be given visas, unlike those fleeing conflicts in Arab Muslim nations.

Zemmour warned an “emotional response” risked unleashing a flood of refugees across Europe after the European Union agreed to give Ukrainians who flee the war the right to stay and work in the 27-nation bloc for up to three years.

The United Nations says more than 2 million Ukrainians have already fled the country.

Zemmour applauded Britain’s more stringent 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…let’s give them visas,” Zemmour told BFM TV.

A writer and polemicist who has previous convictions for inciting racial hate, said it was acceptable to have different rules for would-be asylum seekers from Europe and those from Arab Muslim nations.

He describes France as a once-great nation now in decline, its Christian civilisation hollowed out by the growing influence of Islam and immigration.

“It’s a question of assimilation,” Zemmour said. “There are people who are like us and people who unlike us. Everybody now understands that Arab or Muslim immigrants are too unlike us and that it is harder and harder to integrate them.”

“We are closer to Christian Europeans.”

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

Russia’s assault on Ukraine — which Moscow describes as a ‘special operation to de-Nazify its neighbour — and public disgust over the cross-border exodus of Ukrainian citizens has hurt Zemmour in the polls.

Zemmour’s support has fallen by 3 to 4 points to about 12% in voter surveys taken since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Europe’s open-arm welcome to fleeing Ukrainians contrasts with the reluctance to accept large numbers of refugees from conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, with some Arab refugees complaining of double standards.