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Hollande, City’s Mayor Fire Back at Trump over Paris Criticism | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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French President Francois Hollande leaves the Elysee Palace after a security meeting in Paris, Friday, July 15, 2016. AP

French President Francois Hollande and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo have hit back at Donald Trump after the U.S. president criticized France in a veiled attack on its immigration policies and those of its European allies.

“It is never good to show the slightest mistrust towards a friendly country,” Hollande said Saturday.

“That is not what I do toward a friendly country and I ask the American president not to do it to France,” he said at the opening of the annual agricultural fair in Paris.

Seeking to defend his controversial crackdown on immigrants, Trump criticized long-time allies France, Sweden and Germany.

“Take a look at what’s happening in Sweden. Take a look at what’s happening in Germany. Take a look at what’s happened in France. Take a look at Nice and Paris,” he told conservatives at a rally near Washington on Friday.

Trump trained his sights on Paris in particular, recounting the story of a friend who used to visit every year.

“I have a friend, he’s a very, very substantial guy. He loves the City of Lights,” he said.

After not seeing his friend Jim for a few years, Trump asked him how Paris was, quoting him as replying: “‘Paris? I don’t go there anymore. Paris is no longer Paris.’ That was four years, four or five years, he hasn’t gone there.”

Asked about the comments, Hollande said Trump had recently told him in a telephone conversation of his “love” for Paris and France.

“So I imagine that that is what he thinks. If it is what he thinks, I expect he will express that.

“Fortunately, for several months American tourists have returned in large numbers because they see” that French authorities are making “a considerable effort to ensure security.”

“And I don’t want to make a comparison, but there are no weapons circulating here, there are no people who take weapons to shoot into the crowd”, he said, in a reference to the tighter gun control measures in France than the U.S.

Fears linked to terror attacks have scared off visitors to Paris in the past two years.

In November 2015, 130 people were killed in Paris when gunmen and suicide bombers from ISIS attacked bars, restaurants, a concert hall and the Stade de France national stadium.

Hours after Trump spoke, Paris’ mayor Hidalgo also directed her message to Trump and “his friend Jim.”

In the Eiffel Tower, “we celebrate the dynamism and the spirit of openness of #Paris with Mickey & Minnie,” the message said, along with a photo of Hidalgo posing with the two Disney cartoon characters.

And former Swedish officials also sought to defend their country from Trump’s undue criticism.

“Dear @realDonaldTrump, Sweden is immigration friendly, international & liberal. One of the most prosperous, richest, safest places on earth,” Alexander Stubb, a former prime minister of Finland, wrote on Twitter.