Your name is an insult to France

Political journalist Eric Zemmour lives for scandal. Yet again, he is at the center of a media uproar after insulting a commentator on French television.

Roxanne D'Arco
Roxanne D'Arco NewsMavens, France
Your name is an insult to France - NewsMavens
Hapsatou Sy, Eric Zemmour, Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

On September 16, Zemmour was invited to the famous tv show "Les Terriens du dimanche" (Sunday Earthlings) hosted by Thierry Ardisson and featuring columnists from different social and political backgrounds. 

He had an argument with Hapsatou Sy, a French-Senagalese tv host and one of the commentators. He told her that her parents shouldn't have named her Hapsatou. Later, we learnt the scene was cut by the producers and Hapsatou Sy decided to release the hidden part where he actually went a bit further.

His statement was pretty clear -- her name is an insult to France. "France isn't a virgin land. It's a land with History. With a past. And names are a way to personify France's history," he said. 

How could someone say this considering how migration is linked to France's history? Especially when we know that generations of migrants -- in ancient history -- have made France the country it is today. It was too much for Hapsatou Sy and for many viewers.

Since this scandal, we saw have seen people speak up about how proud they are of their name with a foreign origin. But even names that are considered French can have a foreign history. For example, my name, Roxanne, is actually Persian. It was the name of Alexander the Great's wife, even if France has a famous Roxane in French literature -- thanks to Cyrano de Bergerac. 

Another question comes to mind -- when will tv channels and shows stop inviting this kind of people? Nothing about these encounters makes the world a better place. 

Details from the story:

  • Zemmour is a polemicist, quite famous for his conservative views. 
  • During the show, he had an argument with the commentator Hapsatou Sy. 
  • A scene was actually cut before its publication. 
  • She decided to release it one social media. Eric Zemmour told her name was an insult to France because of its foreign origin. 
  • The incident provoked a nationwide discussion about discrimination and racism.
  • French history is intimately tied with several waves of migration.
  • On social media, people have been saying how proud they are of their origins and the origins of their loved ones. 
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