Photostream : French President Nicolas Sarkozy meets Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad

French president Nicolas Sarkozy (L) shakes hands with Palestinian Prime minister Salam Fayyad after a meeting on February 3, 2011 at the Elysee palace in Paris. (Photo by PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images)

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (C) shakes hands with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad (L) as he arrives for a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris February 3, 2011. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

French president Nicolas Sarkozy (C) shakes hands with Palestinian Prime minister Salam Fayyad prior to a meeting on February 3, 2011 at the Elysee palace in Paris. (Photo by PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images)

Palestinian Prime minister Salam Fayyad answers journalists' questions after a meeting with French president Nicolas Sarkozy on February 3, 2011 at the Elysee palace in Paris. (Photo by PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images)

Palestinian Prime minister Salam Fayyad answers journalists' questions after a meeting with French president Nicolas Sarkozy on February 3, 2011 at the Elysee palace in Paris. (Photo by PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images)

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Sarkozy Calls on African Leaders to do Better or Risk Public Wrath

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy addresses the 16th African Union Summit in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 30, 2011. Photo: REUTERS

Jan 31, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / VOA) — French President Nicolas Sarkozy has cautioned African leaders to respect the peoples’ will or risk being swept aside by a rising tide of public discontent. The warning came as part of Sarkozy’s keynote address to an African Union summit in Addis Ababa.

The words were carefully chosen, aimed at no one in particular, but the intent of Sarkozy’s comments to African heads of state and government could not have been clearer. In this new world of instantaneous communication, social networking and heightened public awareness, leaders can no longer govern in what he called ‘the world of yesteryear’.

The French president said those who ignore the changing times do so at their own peril.

“Either change is inflicted on one, in which case we leave the door open one day or another to violence, or else you anticipate it, guide it, and then it can take place without clashes, without risks and without opening the door to every sort and kind of drift.  France wants this peaceful change and will support it.”

Leaders of most North African states were conspicuous by their absence at this summit.  Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Algeria were all represented by lower level officials.

At a time when television screens have been filled with angry public demonstrations in north African capitals, Sarkozy warned the more than 30 assembled heads of state they could face a similar fate unless they address people’s aspirations.

“Good governance, democracy, respect for human rights are among many values for which your organization struggles on a daily basis and on which you succeed in pushing forward. These correspond to the deep aspirations of each one of our peoples, as we have been reminded forcefully by recent events in Tunisia and Egypt.”

The French leader also warned against the use of force to put down public demonstrations.

“Allow me on this sensitive subject to speak very bluntly. I am going to speak as a friend, because one owes the truth to one’s friends. When faced with innocent victims, our consciences cannot but be pricked because violence from whatever sources is never a solution. Because violence only breeds more violence, because violence on all continents engenders misery and suffering.”

Sarkozy also singled out Ivory Coast, implicitly criticizing incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo for refusing the step down after his apparent defeat in last November’s presidential runoff election.

“In Cote d’Ivoire, where the freely expressed will of an entire people in an election meant to seal a return to peace is being treated with scorn, France resolutely supports efforts of A.U. and ECOWAS and the U.N. secretary general to ensure that the Ivorian people’s choice, peaceful choice, prevails despite the difficulties and the setbacks.”

In a separate summit address, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon backed the call for a negotiated settlement in Ivory Coast.  But Ban said any solution should result in the formation of a government led by challenger Alassane Ouattara.

Both the United Nations and the African Union have recognized Ouattara’s election victory. (*)

Britain, France, Germany urge Mubarak to avoid violence

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron talk prior to participation in a NATO Russia Council meeting at a NATO summit in Lisbon on Saturday Nov. 20, 2010. NATO planned Saturday to deliver a historic invitation for Russia to join a missile shield protecting Europe against Iranian attack, a milestone for an alliance that was built to defend against Soviet forces.(AP Photo/Armando Franca)

Jan 30 (KATAKAMI.COM / EXPATICA.COM) — British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak to avoid violence “at all costs” in a joint statement Saturday.

The three leaders called on Egypt’s embattled president to commit to change in response to what they said were the “legitimate grievances” of his people.

“We are deeply concerned about the events that we are witnessing in Egypt,” said the statement.

“We recognise the moderating role President Mubarak has played over many years in the Middle East. We now urge him to show the same moderation in addressing the current situation in Egypt,” it continued.

“We call on President Mubarak to avoid at all costs the use of violence against unarmed civilians, and on the demonstrators to exercise their rights peacefully.”  (*)

Photostream : French President Nicolas Sarkozy meets Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

French President Nicolas Sarkozy (R) speaks with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during a bilateral meeting on January 27, 2011 at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos. Sarkozy dismissed speculation against the euro on January 27, declaring that he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel would never allow the currency to fail. (Photo by ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy (R) shakes hands with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during a bilateral meeting on January 27, 2011 at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos. Sarkozy dismissed speculation against the euro on January 27, declaring that he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel would never allow the currency to fail. (Photo by ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

Photostream : French President Nicolas Sarkozy and First Lady Carla Bruni visits Martinique and Guadeloupe

French President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy are welcomed by officials upon their arrival at Lamentin airport on January 7 2011 in Fort-de-France, on the French eastern Caribbean Sea island of La Martinique, where Sarkozy is to present his New Year wishes to the French citizens of the overseas territories. (Photo by ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy arrive in Fort-de-France, the capital of France’s Caribbean overseas department of Martinique, January 7, 2011 to start a three-day working visit to the region. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

A member of the Elysee Palace press office (R) helps France’s First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy as she picks up a telephone lost by a journalist as she and France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy arrive at Fort-de-France airport on Martinique island January 7, 2011. Sarkozy and his wife travel to Martinique and Guadeloupe to deliver the New Year’s address to French overseas territories ahead of a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on January 10. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy and First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy are presented flowers as they arrive in Fort-de-France, the capital of France’s Caribbean overseas department of Martinique, January 7, 2011 to start a three-day working visit to the region. Sarkozy and his wife travel to Martinique and Guadeloupe to deliver the New Year’s address to French overseas territories ahead of a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on January 10. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

French President Nicolas Sarkozy Deplores Attack Against Egypt Church

French President Nicolas Sarkozy delivers his New Year address to religious representatives at the Elysee Palace on January 7, 2011 in Paris. (Photo by LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images)

Please also visit : KATAKAMI.COM

 

PARIS, Jan 07 (KATAKAMI / VOA) —French President Nicolas Sarkozy made his annual New Year’s address to religious leaders on Friday. In it, he described recent violence against Christians as a “perverse plan of religious cleansing in the Middle East”.

He said religious and cultural diversity cannot disappear from the region.

A series of violent attacks have hit Christians living in Egypt and Iraq in recent months.

In Iraq last October dozens of people were killed during a siege of a Christian church in Baghdad – that was followed by more attacks in December.

And in Egypt on New Year’s Day a bomb planted outside a church killed more than 20 people. It was the deadliest attack against Christians in Egypt for decades.

‘Decisive shift’

Erica Hunter, a Lecturer in Eastern Christianity at Britain’s School of Oriental and African Studies,says attacks against Christians in the Middle East have taken a decisive shift in recent months.

“What is new in Iraq and in Egypt is the actual targeting of Christians in churches. Previously there had been many kidnappings, difficulties, murders but we have not seen until October the 31 where worshipers are actually attacked within the churches,” Hunter said.

The aim, she says, is to destroy morale within the Christian community. Coptic Christians in Egypt mark Christmas Day on January 7 – later than most Christians around the world.

But rather than celebrating on Friday, says Hunter, Christians were mourning the loss of those killed.

Hunter says the increase in violence stems from fundamentalist groups.

“There does seem to be an escalation in activities by such groups as Al Qaeda and I’m sure they are not the only group,” she said. “There does seem to have been a shifting attitude from within the fundamentalist Islamic terrorist groups. ”

Religious persecution from certain groups

Fiona McCallum from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, is a specialist on the political role of Christian communities in the Middle East.

She says attacks against Christians do not reflect widespread attitudes in the Middle East. She says to describe the violence, as Mr. Sarkozy has done, as a plan of “religious cleansing” suggests a broad-based persecution that does not exist.

“I think the word persecution has connotations which are perhaps wider than we would want to say at the moment,” said McCallum. “Persecution suggests that it is being supported by states, which I would say is not the case in the Middle East at the moment. The acts that can be seen as providing persecution are more linked to particular groups which are not supported by the wider community.”

But she says attacks are likely to force many Christians to leave their home country.

McCallum says in Iraq Christians have already been fleeing the country for many years. The Christian population which once stood at 1.5 million people is now estimated at less than 850,000. She says Christians in Egypt could go the same way.

“It’s important to also note that emigration takes place from the region from both Christians and Muslims as well. However, I do think these attacks leave the Christians in the entire region feeling a lot more vulnerable that they are being targeted solely because of their religious identity,” McCallum said.

Last month the United Nations said around 6,000 people had fled to Iraq’s Northern Kurdish region or to other countries in the region since the attack in Baghdad in October.  (*)

Photostream : France's President Nicolas Sarkozy meets Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy waits for the arrival of Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri at the Elysee Palace in Paris November 30, 2010. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Charles Platiau )

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (R) greets Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri as he arrives for a lunch at the Elysee Palace in Paris November 30, 2010. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Charles Platiau )

French President Nicolas Sarkozy (R) gestures as he welcomes Lebanese Prime minister Sa'ad al-Din al-Hariri prior to a meeting on november 30, 2010 at the Elysee Palace in Paris. (Photo cby ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

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