Reuters is reporting that the French Foreign minister has expressed a willingness to talk to the Muslim Brotherhood stating that France had been fooled by Mideast leaders “who made Muslim movements out as the devil.” According to the report:
PARIS, April 19 (Reuters) – France is open to talking with any Muslim movement abroad that renounces violence, Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Tuesday, signalling a policy shift in the face of popular revolts across the Middle East. France has warned about confusion and difficulty in the NATO bombing campaign against troops loyal to Muammar Gaddafi in Libya while renewing calls for a political solution to the two-month-old civil war. The policy change — which breaks with a precedent of supporting Western-friendly Arab leaders as a bulwark against Islamic extremism — suggests France wants to build early ties with political groups that could take power in some Middle East states once the dust settles from political upheaval. ‘We are willing to talk to everyone,’ Juppe told a group of journalists in Paris. ‘Let us speak to everyone, let us speak to the Muslim Brotherhood.’ Western countries including France have long held a suspicious view of popular Islamic movements like the Muslim Brotherhood, which traces its roots to Islamist ideology born in Egypt — partly as a result of warnings by government leaders in countries where those movements have taken root. The Brotherhood has become the biggest opposition force in Egypt ahead of free and fair elections planned following the February downfall of autocratic President Hosni Mubarak. Explaining the policy shift, Juppe said France had been duped by leaders who made Muslim movements out as the devil. ‘We believed them and now we can see the result,’ he said, referring to the slowness of France’s reaction to budding popular revolts in Tunisia and Egypt late last year. Analysts highlighted the domestic aspect behind Juppe’s statements, saying that Sarkozy — whose popularity ratings remain dismal a year before a presidential election — wants to ingratiate himself with France’s immigrant population….
…Many Muslims in France have been angered by a ban on full-face veils introduced by Sarkozy as well as a recent government debate on secularism in French society. ‘Alain Juppe is indeed trying to rebuild a positive image of France in the Arab world and in the hearts and minds of Arabs everywhere,’ said Pascal Boniface, a researcher at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations.