When Éric Zemmour's supporters are questioned at a public meeting, they unanimously say that he is the only one telling the truth: that a "great replacement" is clearly taking place and could cause France as they know it -- proud of its secularism, Judeo-Christian values and individual liberty -- to "die". Pictured: Zemmour in Budapest, Hungary on September 24, 2021. (Photo by Attila Kisbenedek/AFP via Getty Images)
September 16. Éric Zemmour's new book, France Has Not Yet Said Her Last Word, immediately book becomes a bestseller. Two of his previous books, The French Suicide and A Five-Year Term for Nothing: Chronicles of the War of Civilizations, sold more than 500,000 copies, a high number for non-fiction in France. He is an exception. All authors who write of immigration and Islam without political correctness have been ostracized by the media for years. Not Zemmour. Each time he was fired by radio and television stations, another one hired him. As the last politically incorrect talk show host, his audience consists of people weary of political correctness. He has been dragged into court countless times and ordered to pay high fines, presumably to force him to be quiet. He has paid the fines but would not be quiet.
His earlier books, extremely pessimistic about the future of France, concluded that the country was dying, and unnervingly fast. The cause of death would be the population change resulting from uncontrolled immigration and the ensuing Islamization of the country. Islam, at war with Western civilization for thirteen centuries, he wrote, is incompatible with it. The Muslim population living in France, he went on, does not assimilate, but instead creates extremist enclaves in French territory from which non-Muslims are driven out; and now France finds itself colonized by Islam. French political leaders, he added, practice willful blindness, refusing to see what happens, and slip into submission. The situation, he concluded, is irreversible.
His new book breaks with his former pessimism and shows a willingness to fight. His publisher would not publish the book, so Zemmour published it himself. The book's release was accompanied by a poster campaign from a group, "Friends of Éric Zemmour," created a few weeks earlier. The posters show his face along with the words, "Zemmour President". Zemmour is not even officially a candidate for president of the French Republic - yet. Nonetheless, he acts as if he were on the campaign trail. He has been holding public meetings in large cities and attracting thousands of supporters who seem happy to pay 20 euros ($23) to attend.
On September 13, his television program on CNews was canceled after an institution responsible for regulating audiovisual media in France, the CSA (Superior Audiovisual Council), said that it was "impossible for a presumed presidential candidate to have a television show". Immediately, Zemmour was invited on virtually every radio and television station. In early September, polls credited him with 5%-7% of the 2022 election vote. Recent polls show that, in the first round, he could get 16%-18% of the vote, thereby placing him, in the second round, head-to-head with France's current president, Emmanuel Macron. Never in the history of the Fifth Republic has a presumed presidential candidate had such a dramatic rise to power.
The leaders of The Republicans, France's leading moderate right-wing political party, can see that many of their voters are considering voting for Zemmour, so they still have not chosen a presidential candidate. When they saw that Zemmour had every chance of receiving more votes than anyone else in the party, without even participating in the primary election, they announced that votes for Zemmour would not be counted. The president of the National Rally Party, Marine Le Pen, also can see that many of her voters are turning toward Zemmour. President Macron, for his part, until recently probably assumed that in the second round he would be facing Marine Le Pen, and could again use the fear of "fascism" and the "defense of the republic" by reminding the public that she is the daughter of an unreconstructed anti-Semite, Jean-Marie Le Pen, and therefore get easily re-elected.
Macron now seems visibly anxious and has begun to attack Zemmour's positions by saying that France must be "open to diversity" and that "the identity of France was never built on shrinking the country ". His advisers know it is not possible to accuse Zemmour of anti-Semitism: he is a Jew. French Jews supporting Macron now describe Zemmour as a far-right Jew betraying the values of Judaism. Zemmour has said that the Vichy regime saved French Jews during World War II by preventing them from being sent to the death camps, so some have accused him of defending the Vichy regime and its collaboration with the Nazis. Supporters of Macron and others say that Zemmour is a "racist" and a "fascist". Articles steeped in hatred are published daily in the mainstream media, and journalists who interview him on radio and television always say, before asking him questions , that he is a dangerous man. Some commentators have described him as an "infectious agent" and as a "virus more harmful than the Wuhan coronavirus".
The defamation poured out against him has even appeared in the international press. An article on October 24 in the Wall Street Journal states that Zemmour "has drawn inspiration from former President Donald Trump, is harnessing his celebrity to explore a run for president". It adds that Zemmour "defended the leaders of Vichy France, the regime that collaborated with Nazi Germany during World War II", and that
"Mr. Zemmour said that they protected French Jews while handing over foreign-born Jews to the Germans in a necessary compromise to occupation... Mr. Zemmour wrote that families of the children killed in 2012 at a Jewish school near Toulouse were behaving like foreigners for burying their children in Israel".
The newspaper added that Zemmour "has embraced a view held by white nationalists called the 'Great Replacement,' which contends that global elites are conspiring to bring non-European immigrants".
Never has a presumptive French presidential candidate been attacked so unanimously, so viciously and with so much savagery. To find similar attacks, it would be necessary to go back to the 1930s, and at the time the attacks came only from an anti-Semitic far-right press.
Zemmour responds to all criticisms and defamatory remarks. He tells the leaders of The Republicans that his proposals are exactly those included in their party's program from 1990, when, as the Rally for the Republic (RPR), it proposed to close the borders, suspend immigration, provide social benefits only for the French, and to fight the increasing Islamization of the country. He adds that The Republicans betrayed their own party by renouncing its old program.
Zemmour tells Marine Le Pen that she cannot win and she knows it, and Macron that "opening up to diversity" leads to the dissolution of France. He notes that he does not want to shrink the country, but to save it from destruction and that he will not refuse to see what Islam is or can do. He frequently quotes the Algerian author Boualem Sansal, who writes that Islamic neighborhoods in France are "budding Islamic republics". Zemmour tells those who say he is a far-right Jew that he is just a conservative attached to the French republic and all the values that made France great. He states that he is a French Jew, proud of his name, and that those who murdered Jews in France in recent years were not Jews. He says he rejects the charge of being an apologist for the anti-Semitic Vichy regime, and points out that what he says about French Jews during WWII was laid out in a book, Vichy and The Holocaust: An Inquiry on a French Paradox, by Rabbi Alain Michel, who works for the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Israel. Zemmour stresses that he does not defend the Vichy regime at all, does not say that the Vichy regime "protected" French Jews, but only cites historical facts -- and asks those who criticize him on this point if they think Rabbi Alain Michel is an anti-Semite.
Zemmour reminds those who call him a racist and a fascist that Islam is not a race, and that fascists are the enemies of democracies, while he is trying to save democracy. He adds that those who call him a "virus" remind him of those who called Jews "vermin" in the 1930s; that anti-Semites already decades ago called Jews "vermin," and that calling Jews "vermin" led to horrific consequences.
Zemmour says that he thinks that Donald Trump did great things for the United States -- he is one of the rare French journalists not to spit on Trump -- and that he, Zemmour, would have preferred not to think about running for president, but saw no one else likely to defeat Macron, and therefore has no choice.
When asked about the Jews murdered by an Islamic terrorist at a Jewish school in Toulouse, Zemmour says that he does not blame their families for having them buried in Israel, that he does not think their families behaved like "foreigners." He simply notes a fact: that they think that above all they are Jews, which is the right of every Jew. He says that the concept of a "great replacement" of Western Christendom by Islam is not a conspiracy theory but a reality: that demographic data show that in many places throughout history, there is documentation of people who have replaced other people after they have imported a civilization that does not have the same values as theirs. He adds that this is not an idea shared only by white nationalists, but by all those who read history and live in areas that are changing rapidly.
So far, only one French politician has agreed to debate with Zemmour: Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of La France Insoumise ("France Unsubmitted"), a far-left party that includes former members of the French Communist Party. The other political leaders treat Zemmour with contempt. If he becomes a presidential candidate, and if he continues to attract a large number of voters, they will not be able to avoid debating him. They know him well, for thirty years, as a journalist and political commentator. He also knows them well -- and is a formidable debater.
Zemmour's presumed candidacy, his success, and the fury it provokes among politicians and journalists seem symptoms of the state of the country today. France is in an extremely serious situation. There are now more than 700 "no-go zones" (Zones Urbaines Sensibles), ruled by ethnic gangs and radical imams. The police can only intervene in these zones through commando operations. A new kind of disturbance, defined by sociologists as "gratuitous violence" -- violence practiced for the pleasure of injuring and killing -- has been spreading. Hundreds of assaults take place every day; police reports show that the majority of them are committed by "suburban youths" and that their victims are Caucasians. In many high schools and colleges, teachers have long since given up even mentioning the Holocaust. Since the beheading of high-school teacher Samuel Paty, who was advocating free speech, they have also given up talking about secularism. When, on October 17, 2021, a year after Paty was murdered, the French government organized a commemoration in all French schools, many violent incidents, unfortunately initiated by Muslim students, took place. A recent survey showed that 14% of young people in France aged 18-30 approved of the motives of Paty's murderer. A poll conducted in November 2020 showed that 57% of Muslims in France aged 18-25 consider Sharia law to be superior to the laws of the republic (in 2016, the figure was 47%).
Entire French towns are now predominantly Muslim: Roubaix, Trappes, Sevran, Aubervilliers. The department of Seine-Saint-Denis will very soon be predominantly Muslim. Marseille, the second-largest city in France, is 40% Muslim and will likely be a majority Muslim city in less than a decade. The population of Lyon, the third-largest city in France, is one-third Muslim.
Each year, 400,000 immigrants legally arrive in France, mostly from the Muslim world. Also each year, tens of thousands of illegal immigrants, also mostly from the Muslim world, are added to that number. Hardly any of them are deported. The French population is aging; the newcomers are young, and their birthrate is far higher than that of non-Muslims. A population change is taking place. The September issue of the French monthly magazine Causeur published a detailed investigation of the subject, titled "Smile, You Are Replaced!" It disclosed that while native French women have a fertility rate of 1.9 children, women coming from Algeria have a fertility rate of 3.6 children; from Tunisia, 3.5 children, and from Morocco, 3.4 children. If the change continues at the present rate, France could be a predominantly Muslim country around 2050.
President Macron has not done anything to stop or lessen the flow of Muslim immigration into France or to act against the change in population. He has often said that he wants to fight Islamism -- and always adding that Islamism is an ideology unrelated to Islam. He only once said that "Islam is a religion that is in crisis today, all over the world", without giving a clear explanation of what he meant. Most French Muslim organizations immediately reacted by saying that he had insulted Islam. Demonstrations were launched in several Muslim countries: Turkey, Lebanon, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian flew to Cairo to apologize to Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of the al-Azhar Mosque, and emphatically to underscore France's deep respect for Islam.
Macron said in November 2020 that a law to fight "Islamic separatism" would quickly be passed. A law was indeed passed in August 2021, but it does not include the words Islam or Islamism. It is called a "law confirming respect for the principles of the Republic". It speaks of a "separatist dynamic which aims at division" and says that public services should respect secularism, that civil servants should be protected from threats, and that Islamic organizations should disclose their sources of funding. It prohibits polygamy and home schooling.
However, the public services were already supposed to respect secularism; civil servants were already supposed to be protected by the French state, and Islamic organizations were already supposed to reveal their sources of funding. Polygamy was already banned in France, but it exists nevertheless; several thousand French Muslims today are polygamous. Home schooling is practiced by many non-Muslims. The law offers no way to counter the Islamization of France and radical Islam. Two or three radical mosques were closed for a few months, but each year, dozens more mosques open up. Imams calling for jihad continue to preach. Most are French citizens and cannot be expelled. Islamic bookstores continue to sell anti-Semitic books banned in other bookshops. The expression "Islamic separatism" is now used by all political leaders -- including Marine Le Pen -- and by all French journalists when they speak of "no-go zones."
"The Islamists do not want to separate," Middle East scholar Bernard Rougier states in his book The Conquered Territories of Islamism, "they want to submit and conquer". Zemmour is the only journalist not excluded from the mainstream media for speaking like Rougier, and the only presumptive presidential candidate who reminds everyone that all the Jews murdered in France over more than a decade have been killed by Islamic anti-Semites. Zemmour is also the only presidential candidate who has dared to say that the Palestinian people were invented -- a statement long ago affirmed by former Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat -- and that Israel is a nation state that, like all states, has the right to defend itself and fight for its survival.
Polls show that the French population is extremely pessimistic about the future of France, and extremely dissatisfied with the current political parties. When French regional elections were held in June, they saw an unprecedented abstention rate for France of 66.7%.
When Zemmour's supporters are questioned at a public meeting, they unanimously say that he is the only one telling the truth: that a "great replacement" is clearly taking place and could cause France as they know it -- proud of its secularism, Judeo-Christian values and individual liberty -- to "die". They almost all add that they think the France of the Enlightenment actually could "die" and that the 2022 presidential election is probably the last chance to save the republic.
The Muslim electorate, increasing in importance in France, is -- no surprise there -- hostile to him. Zemmour says Muslims need to accept criticism of Islam. However, Muslims do not, and Islamic intolerance of free speech is rapidly gaining ground in France. When a teenage girl named Mila made negative comments about Islam on social media, she received so many death threats that she had to go into hiding and still fears for her life.
In spite of articles saying that "Zemmour causes discomfort among French Jews," a large number of them seem set on voting for him: they apparently view the possibility of continuing to live in an increasingly Islamized France as compromised. They have already fled from the Islamized neighborhoods and cities en masse. Nevertheless, the main French Jewish institutions seem to be blind to the danger to French Jews represented by Islamic anti-Semitism. They continue unconditionally to support Macron. "No Jewish vote should go to potential candidate Éric Zemmour", said the president of the Representative Council of the Jewish Institutions of France (CRIF), Francis Kalifat. "The ideas of Zemmour can only inspire disgust," he added. He had never used such harsh words for French politicians who supported Palestinian terrorist organizations. Ten years ago, the then-president of CRIF, Richard Prasquier, also warmly received the Palestinians' current leader, Mahmoud Abbas, not exactly known to be pro-Jewish, in Paris.
If Zemmour decides to become a presidential candidate, he will need to do so soon, and undoubtedly knows that being elected will be difficult. He has no support from any political party or any political leader. Attacks against him by the mainstream media will not just continue but intensify.
The French, Zemmour often says, do not want France to "die". The coming weeks will show if he is right.
Dr. Guy Millière, a professor at the University of Paris, is the author of 27 books on France and Europe.