Algerian-born man living in France is refused French nationality
Application turned down because of man’s ’degrading attitude’ towards his wife
· Kim Willsher in Paris
· guardian.co.uk, Thursday 9 June 2011
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, left, and Claude Guéant, the interior minister, who said he expected candidates for nationality to assimilate into French society.
An Algerian-born man living in France has been refused French nationality because of his "degrading attitude" towards women.
The man, who has not been named, is married to a Frenchwoman, but does not allow her to leave the family home freely, it was claimed.
In what is seen as a legal precedent, his application for French nationality was turned down because "his idea of sexual equality is not that of the republic", according to a high-ranking official quoted by French radio station Europe 1.
The French constitution states that the government can refuse nationality or strip nationality for a "lack of integration". The interior minister, Claude Guéant, has made it clear he expects candidates for nationality to not only integrate but "assimilate" into French society.
A spokesman for the minister told the Guardian that concerns were raised when police interviewed the man as part of the application process. The refusal, she added, had been confirmed by the State Council – the legal body that advises the government on legislation – and was awaiting signature by the minister.
"The man was eligible for French nationality as he had been married to a French citizen for more than four years. In such cases, however, it can be refused by a disrespect of or lack of assimilation into the French community or if the person practises polygamy.
"In this case, during the interview at the police station his behaviour showed a lack of assimilation into the French community; it was incompatible with the values of the French republic, notably in respect to the values of the equality of men and women. This justifies the decision for not giving him French nationality. The case was examined by the State Council, which agreed and a decision to that effect was given."
The case emerged a week after far-right leader Marine Le Pen wrote to French MPs asking them to support an end to dual nationality, claiming it "undermines republican values". Le Pen has made no secret that her demand is aimed at people from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. A delegation of 50 MPs from the ruling right-of-centre UMP party met President Nicolas Sarkozy recently to press for an end to dual nationality. Afterwards one of the MPs said Sarkozy was "very favourable" to the idea.
Henry Guaino, one of the president’s closest advisers, told French radio: "It’s an idea that merits debate. Whatever the National Front’s position, it’s not wrong to discuss this issue."
Socialist MP Manuel Valls, who chairs a parliamentary committee on nationality rights, said scrapping dual nationality would be counter-productive and that French expatriates with dual nationality acted as "ambassadors" for their country around the world.
Christophe Girard, the Socialist deputy mayor of Paris, wrote in Le Monde that the history of France and its mix of cultures was under threat. "This return to nationalism that locks and narrows pits citizens against each other in fear and hatred and is a proven risk," he wrote. "The atmosphere fostered by the current government is even more revolting given that the current head of state himself is the son of an immigrant father and his third wife is French-Italian.
"The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the backbone of France. We need to strengthen it. I would appeal to all those who are able to obtain a second citizenship to take the necessary steps now."