Do you have a Muslim appearance?

30 Mar

Muslim appearance (Musulman d’apparence).  Expression coined by French president Nicolas Sarkozy, the 26 March, to designate the person who physically looks like a Muslim. The expression became instantly the trending topic on Twitter.

I remind you that they were Muslims or at least they were of  Muslim appearance since one of them was actually Catholic, said  French president in a radio interview with public radio station France Info, referring to confusion over the origins of the soldiers gunned down in Toulouse and Montauban.

Instantly, this claim unleashed the torrent of Twitter comments with as a trending topic #Musulmandapparence (#OfMuslimappearance) and thousands of people criticizing Sarkozy and questioning the idea of a physical look to identify Muslims.

A Green party politician, Cécile Duflot commented: “So Sarkozy actually said ‘Muslim-looking’ … When will it stop?

One Twitter user asked:  Are the bearded hipsters also of  Muslim appearance?

So what did Nicolas Sarkozy want to say? First of all he probably used the expression more out of clumsiness than anything else.

At the same time, he just repeated, probably unconsciously, some of the stereotypes about Muslims: they are bearded, they wear hats and veils and they are all Arab (by the way, according to a 2012 Pew institute study, Indonesia is the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, 205 million people.  Would you say that they have a « Muslim appearance?!)

He is probably not the only one to make such a language blunder. However, as a president-candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy should have known that the religious affiliation doesn’t’ shown in the facial features of a person. If it were, he too could become a Muslim, with a little help of  Photoshop.

"Of a Muslim appearance", a caricature of a French president Nicolas Sarkozy with the mustache, imitating ironically his presidential poster.

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