Immigrants must learn La Marseillaise
Saturday November 15th 2008, 6:08 am
Filed under: people,politics,weird

From the telegraph:

“Foreigners should be forced to study the French national anthem, La Marseillaise, if they want to stay in the country, a close ally of President Nicolas Sarkozy has declared.

Brice Hortefeux, the minister for immigration and national identity, says foreigners should be taught the history and “values” of the national anthem – which includes calls for the shedding of “impure blood” and the defeat of “foreign cohorts”.

The proposal comes less than a month after Mr Sarkozy threatened to call off football matches if fans jeered, whistled or booed during the playing of La Marseillaise.

Mr Hortefeux, 50, who is one of the president’s closest friends and has his full backing, made the suggestion during a European conference on immigration at Vichy.

“The Marseillaise is too often heard as a song, but not as a lesson,” he said. “We are failing to explain well enough to immigrants who want to live in France where the song comes from, what it means and what values it conveys.”

France has long preferred to attempt the integration of immigrants rather than the multi-cultural approach taken by of Britain. Since Mr Sarkozy came to power in May 2007 there has been a series of measures to curb immigration, including controversial DNA tests on foreigners who want to join relatives in France.

As a call to arms, few national anthems are a bloody as La Marseillaise, originally entitled the War Song of the Army of the Rhine. “To arms, citizens,” it exhorts. “Form in battalions. March, march! Let impure blood water our furrows!”

Three years ago, French MPs voted to make learning La Marseillaise compulsory in French schools.

The government’s High Council on Integration, which will meet in January, must first approve Mr Hortefeux’s proposal, said to have been inspired by American patriotism. The minister had earlier described demonstrators against Europe’s immigration policy dressed as Nazis who torched three cars in the centre of Vichy as “cretins”.

La Marseillaise was composed in 1792 by Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle, a Captain of the Engineers in the Rhine Army, stationed in Strasbourg. France had just declared war on Austria and Prussia. It became so popular with volunteer army units from Marseilles it was later renamed after them and was sung by revolutionaries entering Paris in 1792. It became the official national anthem on July 14, 1795.

In October Mr Sarkozy described the booing of the national anthem before a friendly football match with Tunisia as “scandalous” and said if it happened again, match officials would be instructed to call off the game.” [source]

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