BERLUSCONI: 'Young, beautiful and tanned is a compliment.'

OBAMA: Yeah, so is 'Old Jerk'!

[Courrier International, France]



Le Journal du Dimanche au Quotidien, France

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy: 'We Must Help Our Elites Embrace Change'


"The voters are ready. I think the political parties are ready to accept the imposition of certain standards, a charter or a pact. The Obama effect should propel us. … When I hear [Italian Prime Minister] Silvio Berlusconi joke about the fact that Obama is 'always tanned' … I am very pleased to have become French!"


-- Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, the first lady of France


By Claude Askolovitch


Translated By Sandrine Ageorges


November 8, 2008


France - Le Journal du Dimanche au Quotidien - Original Article (French)

Prompted by the victory of of -elect Barack Obama, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, the first lady of France, is backing a manifesto calling for major changes in the way Europeans percieve race, and the way they consider those in power.


REUTERS VIDEO: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi puts his foot firmly in mouh, commenting on Barack Obama's 'suntan,' Nov. 10, 00:01:38RealVideo

Exclusive: After "the call for genuine equality of opportunity" launched by Yazid Sabeg in the Le Journal du Dimanche - already endorsed by several politicians - the wife of the president is also committing herself. She can't sign it because of her position, but Carla Bruni-Sarkozy explains why she supports this document. A neo-French, the first lady emphasized that her husband is also a child of immigrants. And she invites France to change.




If I were only Carla Bruni the singer, I would sign this manifesto for equality. But I'm Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, and my name is not completely my own. It would be strange to communicate with the power, my husband, via petition! But this doesn’t prevent me from being engaged. And it doesn’t prevent me from agreeing with the manifesto you have published …


I agree broadly that we [Europeans] are behind - but have more indulgence for France, which is ready to respond. And I agree with the goals. Obviously, it will require the will to act and to look for talent and those with ambition … . Yes, we must allow the emergence of the immense potential of the new France. For years, I was a sponsor of SOS-Racisme  and have loved this multi-cultural group, this mini France of pals. Yesterday I was with [Secretary of State for Urban Policy] Fadela Amara  - another cousin from SOS-Racisme - for the "ceremony of talents" in the suburbs. It was a swirl of energy … and at the same time, this recognition by the suburban authorities isn't enough. The people of the suburbs must in their turn, become those in power! The fact that she’s a minister is formidable progress. But she wasn’t elected, and this is our limitation.


[Editor's Note: In France, the word 'suburb' has an entirely different meaning than in the United States. In France, the term banlieues is often used to describe troubled communities with high unemployment, high crime rates, and frequently, a high proportion of residents of foreign origin.]


I often wonder where this blockage in our societies originates - why is it that the elites in the Assembly and in ruling circles (in music and fashion, it’s another story) are White, while our society is mixed … . Is this a question of morality, psychology or is it a technical issue? Instinctively, I hold that it is psychology. In order for governing circles to open up, one must instill trust. We are crippled by our habits. Power has often had the same face: White men of a certain age. Our habits, in the end, have turned into sclerosis! We must help the elite to change … or force them a little, because psychology alone won’t do. This is why I find myself on the side of this call. Without political decisions, we'll have too long to wait. The people have already been made to wait too long.


At the same time, France is an open country and as a foreigner, I can confirm that. And not only a foreigner, but the wife of the president. My husband is not Obama. But the French have elected the son of Hungarian immigrants, whose father speaks with an accent, whose mother is Jewish, and yet he has always claimed to be a Frenchman who came from another place. He doesn’t resemble traditional French elites - and that hasn't prevented anything … . And personally, I don't match the profile of the typical First Lady! I'm an artist and Italian born …




Of course we are, he and I, of European descent, and that makes it easier. Obviously, there is a deadlock within the political system that we see on a daily basis, which is the incapacity of the political parties to elect new people - those who don't fit the criteria of power … .Diversity must be offered to the voters, from local elections to federal legislative elections! It will come. The voters are ready. I think the political parties are ready to accept the imposition of certain standards, a charter or a pact. The Obama effect should propel us. You’ll tell me that my husband can accelerate this trend, at least within his family? Indeed. But here we are entering a political debate, and this is a limitation I have set for myself.


In any case, let’s give France a chance. Our prejudices here are insidious, they hinder down, they wear us down … . But many changes are emerging before us. And we are spared the brutal and fearless racism that exists in America. I remember, as a young model - I must have been 25 - a photo session organized in South Carolina. We stayed there for several days. We were eating dinner in our trailer, while there was a restaurant nearby. I asked why we weren't eating there and I was told that they wouldn't serve Noami Campbell because she is Black …


That was America in 1992! So to see the arrival of Obama is of course an immense joy - for me and for all of those who love America; for all French people and notably one of them that I know so well. I know how we are all so full of hope, full of expectation. By contrast, when I hear [Italian Prime Minister] Silvio Berlusconi take the event so lightly and joke about the fact that Obama is "always tanned," it makes me feel strange. We can put this down to humor … but often, I am very pleased to have become French!



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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US November 11, 3:42pm]