It is difficult to ignore French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s history of xenophobic populism while assessing France’s ban on the burqa. Seemingly every time Sarkozy’s finds himself in a rut, the French government introduces new legislation targeted at some minority group. For example in 2010, Sarkozy, facing record low approval ratings, announced a new policy of deportation of France’s immigrant Roma population. At the time Sarkozy defended the deportation on the grounds that the Roma disproportionately contributed to France’s crime and prostitution. Sarkozy, of course, provided no evidence to support this claim, and yet it’s not all that surprising that he didn’t need to. The French president has repeatedly attacked various minorities groups ‘otherness’ as a way of unifying France’s increasingly divided right. In the case of the Roma however, Sarkozy’s policy appeared to have little success, as he faced significant backlash at the European level. The Roma, after all, are European immigrants- mostly coming from new EU members Romania and Bulgaria- who are entitled to all the rights of European citizens, including free movement. Despite the backlash to what many considered his ‘populist’ Roma policy, it would appear that Sarkozy has yet again decided to isolate minority groups in order rally political support. In a recent campaign speech, which in fact shot him ahead of socialist rival Francois Hollande for the first time, Sarkozy blasted both European immigrants and French Muslims as degrading to French culture. Taken in context then, the burqa ban should come as no surprise from a president who utilizes xenophobia at his convenience.