Anti-Sarkozy graffiti, Théâtre National, Strasbourg

Nicolas Sarkozy occupies a unique space in European politics. The child of a Hungarian father, and a half-Sephardic Jewish mother (of Greek origin, no less) the French President is nevertheless hostile towards immigration.

What might we make of such a disposition coming from a person of his background? Should we ask whether it reflects his own anxiety about being the child of not-so-nice foreigners? Or, should we assume that he is someone who simply identifies as a white conservative, of local origin? And how might we explain the choice of an Italian wife?

Clearly, Sarkozy is committed to a specific idea of French citizenship. Whether that means violently cracking down on unemployed North African youth, mass deportations of Roma (Gypsies) or depriving Muslims and Jews of ritually-proscribed foods, the pattern is painfully obvious. So obvious that this  vile piece of graffiti (“Eat my son of a foreigner’s ass”) makes an unfortunate amount of sense.

At the very least, it’s a reminder to the President that not everyone agrees with his policies. At its most vulgar, it is a recommendation that he consume his own decidedly treif diet.

Photograph courtesy of Joel Schalit. Taken at the Théâtre National, Strasbourg. September 2010.