Tawfik Aclimandos, 50 years old, is an Egyptian researcher at the Economic Legal and Social Documentation Center (CEDEJ). Speaking fluent French, he took his doctorate in 2004 at "Institut d'Etudes Politiques" in Paris. He talks about the vision of the Egyptians towards the french president, first head of state to come on holidays in Egypt, a country known to be conservative, with "his girlfriend" ...

39352686What do you think of Nicolas Sarkozy?
Until January 2007, the beginning of the electoral campaign, I never thought that Nicolas Sarkozy would be one day President ... He had not the look of president and he doesn't know the rural culture, especially when he is compared to other presidents such as Charles De Gaulle and François Mitterrand. As for his image in Egypt, it can only be worse than that of Jacques Chirac, who is very popular here. Egyptians always suspected that Nicolas Sarkozy is the "friend" of Israel, taking into consideration his Jewish origins. The Egyptians were afraid that he would support Israel. However, two years after his arrival in power, there was no storm that people feared of. He didn't turn to Israel as Egyptians thought.

What do you think of his internal politics, in particularly about immigration?
The Egyptians are not very interested by the internal politics in France. They do not know much. What interests them is the question of immigration. The Egyptians know that it is difficult to obtain a visa for France. There are many conditions. According to them, Nicolas Sarkozy has made it virtually impossible to emigrate. But on this point, I think he was not the one who did that. The situation was even before taking office.

What do you think of his politics about Middle East?39352722_p
On Iran, the Egyptians are divided: Some agreed with Sarkozy's speech when he said that Iran is playing a dangerous game by activating the communitarianism: Shi'ites with Shi'ites, Christians among Christians ... The other part of the Egyptians say they are there to shoot down an enemy: Israel. All means are good for the win and Iran can be a great help. For my part, as Egyptien, I am opposed to a foreign attack against Iran. This would destabilize the balance of forces in the region.
As for Sudan, I am for the decision of the International Criminal Court to convict Omar El-Bashir, who is a true war criminal. I therefore share the view of Nicolas Sarkozy. But the Egyptian people does not agree with the french president for a simple reason: they refused that a president could be judged by foreigners. The Egyptian government also objects to this sentence, but it's just for fear of a division of Sudan.
About Syria, I believe that Nicolas Sarkozy is trying to bring back Syria to the international game, especially in the peace process between Israel and Arab countries.
About the crisis in Gaza in January, I appriciated alot, like all Egyptians, the reaction of Nicolas Sarkozy. He was the only president to have shuttles between France, Egypt and Israel to end the war. Egyptians expected a backlash, or at least the silence of France ...

What do you think of the Project of the Union for the Mediterranean?
Most Egyptians are not interested in this project or do not believe in it. Those who know it see the draft of France as an attempt to deliver Israel on the same table with the Arabs. I think it is a way to get rid of the Barcelona Process, which sought to apply human rights and democracy in the southern Mediterranean. Other Egyptians also believe that such a project has good sides. It could facilitate the entry of Egyptian products to Europe.

This article was written for the french magazine "Courrier de l'Atlas"