Moroccan PSG footballer attacked by French far-right
Hakimi, who signed a five-year contract with Paris Saint Germain in July, said the longstanding French Arab Muslim community in Paris helped him adjust to life in the capital in an interview with L’Equipe magazine published on 25 September.
Far-right French officials used the comments as a rallying cry for their anti-immigration agenda on social media.
"One of the reasons I came to Paris is the Arab Muslim community that there is here," Hakimi told L’Equipe.
"I knew culturally I was going to feel right at home," he added.
Julien Odoul from the right-wing National Rally party wrote on Twitter in response: "When foreigners feel 'at home' with us, the French feel like foreigners in their own country.
"Stopping immigration is a challenge for civilization."
France has long had a problem with xenophobia and religious discrimination, often directed at its 5.7 million-strong Muslim population made up of multiple different nationalities.
Odoul has attacked France's Algerian community in the past, saying that it was better for Algeria to lose the 2019 African Cup of Nations to Nigeria because the victory "would have resulted in a night of violence from the Algerian community".
Although Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party is currently at the political fringes, elections will take place next year in France with immigration set to be a key issue.
The centrist government of President Emmanuel Macron has already proposed a policy to slash visas for Algerians, Tunisians and Moroccans wanting to settle in the country.
Mieux que les statistiques démographiques, les commentaires du joueur du #PSG #Hakimi.— Julien Odoul (@JulienOdoul) September 25, 2021
Quand les étrangers se sentent « comme à la maison » chez nous, les Français se sentent comme des étrangers dans leur propre pays. Arrêter l’immigration est un enjeu de civilisation ! https://t.co/ARH7SyDxuM
In response to Odoul's comments, a verified account named The Parisian Source said: "The only French people who feel foreign in France are the racist who cannot bear to see people of all origins there.
"You spend too much time dividing the people and spreading your hatred of strangers."
A number of other users rushed to defend Hakimi, who at only 22-year-old is considered one of the best right-wingers in the world.
"He brings more to our country than you and all your political party," replied one user.
"What are you afraid of?" said another.