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French senator says he 'knows Muslim world well'. Twitter disagrees

Jean-Pierre Chevenement's knowledge extends to visits to Cairo and Algiers 50 years ago. Twitter users were not impressed
Au fait or faux pas? Chevenement got the Twitter treatment for his comments (AFP)

Jean-Pierre Chevenement was at the centre of attention again this week, not for asking Muslims to be discreet, but for showing off his knowledge on the Muslim world.

Speaking to France Inter, Chevenement said: "I know the Muslim world well... I've been to Cairo, Algiers, 40 or 50 years ago."

The French senator is set to take over as head of the Foundation of French Islam later this year, despite not being a Muslim and describing himself as a "secular republican".

His comments instantly sparked a reaction among Twitter users, who wanted to show who understands the Muslim world better. The hashtag #JeConnaisBienLeMondeMusulman (I know the Muslim world well) was the result.

Translation: #IKnowTheMuslimWorldWell because I ate a kebab once

Translation: #IKnowTheMuslimWorldWell because I watched The New Adventures of Aladdin at least twice

Translation: #IKnowTheMuslimWorldWell because I have this CD in my attic

Translation: #IKnowTheMuslimWorldWell I even have an Arabic label on my tshirt

Translation: #IKnowTheMuslimWorldWell I know the Arabic numbers off by heart

Translation: #IKnowTheMuslimWorldWell My grandmother wears a veil 

Unsurprisingly, it's not the only faux pas by a French politician this week.

The prime minister, Manuel Valls, also caused controversy when he suggested that naked breasts represent France better than a headscarf, making reference to Marianne, a national symbol of the French Republic from the Eugène Delacroix painting, Liberty Leading the People.

A historian of the French revolution Mathilde Larrere, took to Twitter in response: “Marianne has a naked breast because it’s an allegory, you cretin!”


This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.