Marine Le Pen and the Occupation
Many websites, bloggers, and MSM news sources reported on the remarks made by Marine Le Pen on December 10, 2010, during "A vous de juger", a television show devoted to political discussions. An article by José Castano, posted at Popodoran, denounces the reactions to her words. Outrage poured forth from all sides, all parties, all anti-racism groups, and even from members of Marine's own party, the Front National when she compared the Muslim prayers in the streets of France to an "occupation". Here is what she said:
"Fifteen years ago we had the veil, there were more and more veils. Then it was the burka, there are more and more burkas. Then there were prayers in public streets (...) now there are ten or fifteen places where a certain number of persons come regularly to seize the territory. I'm sorry, but for those who like to talk about the Second World War, if you must talk about it, let's talk about it... "True, there are no tanks, no soldiers, but it's an occupation all the same... If we cannot do anything for those who died yesterday, we can still prevent suffering tomorrow. That is our role."
And here is what happened after she said it:
And it was this word "occupation" that unleashed a torrent of political and media outrage. Just one word gave the green light to our "elite" to raise a "hue and cry over the extreme Right!" and to launch into an attack on the attempt by the FN to un-demonize itself. An attempt that prompted political analyst Dominique Reynié to say: "The French perceive the FN not only as a party of the extreme Right but as a populist and popular party transcending Right and Left."
From then on, recriminations, confusion, denunciation, slander and demagogy prevailed over every other consideration. It was too good an opportunity not to deal a fatal blow to the extreme Right and to stem the ardor of voters attracted to the Front National (...) Within a few hours something like an armed rebellion invaded the radio waves, the newspapers and enriched the editorials. Just think! "The foul beast" has returned! "She is really her father's daughter!" (...)
For the Socialists, Marine Le Pen is showing the "true face of the French extreme Right". Her statements are the result of "hatred and ignorance".
Here are just a few quotes from Marine Le Pen's opponents:
"Marine Le Pen is someone who is often presented as the human face of the Front National or of a republican Right that's just a bit more radical, but this offense ("dérapage") is a reminder that the Front National functions through provocation, and that it is a party whose genetic heritage is not inscribed in our republican values." (Pierre Moscovici, Socialist deputy)
Marine Le Pen, through her remarks about Muslims, has "reminded us that she is the carrier of a profoundly discriminatory position and, in my opinion, anti-republican." (Moscovici)
"Marine Le Pen, out of sheer clientelism, is recycling her father's ideas, and shunting to the margins of our Republic men and women who have their full place and who have the right to believe or not to believe or to have another religion." (Martine Aubry, chairman of the French Socialist Party.)
"Marine Le Pen has pulled out the fascist banner, she surpasses her father in matters of extremism. Lepenism is throwing off its mask and showing in broad daylight the hideous face it wishes to give to our country." (joint statement by four members of the Socialist Party)
"I want to respond to Mme Le Pen by turning to the memory of my grandfather, an Arab from Algeria who fought the army of Nazi Occupation because he served and loved France. Her statement is an insult to those - Arabs, Africans, Muslims or not, who died for France, the very ones who liberated the national territory while your father, Madame Le Pen, found attenuating circumstances in the Nazi Occupation." (Arnaud Montebourg, Socialist deputy)
"The French Communist Party demands that these injurious and racist remarks be condemned... The Front National is a xenophobic political movement whose near-fascist, racist, and negationist positions have been condemned many times by the courts... Radio and television networks should not dishonor themselves by promoting a racist and xenophobic point of view that shames our country... By comparing the Muslim street prayers to the Occupation during WWII, Marine Le Pen has pushed the boundaries of baseness. Her statements make one sick... Le Pen, father and daughter, are willing to make any provocation in order to satisfy their hunger for power... They have as their only order of the day hatred for the Other, which is nothing less than hatred for Man." (Pierre Laurent, national secretary of the French Communist Party)
José Castano adds:
A fine lesson in morality from the party they have nicknamed "the party of 100 million deaths!"
Unfortunately, Marine Le Pen backed off just a bit:
The same day, Marine Le Pen explained to Reuters that she had not specifically referred to the German occupation during WWII, but to any form of occupation. "My remarks do not constitute in any way an offense, but a well thought-out analysis based on the daily observation of a physical and juridical reality... I could just as well have spoken of the occupation by the English at the time of Jeanne d'Arc... What I said is that those who pray in public behave like occupiers (...) As far as the term 'Occupation' goes I stand by what I said, but those who tried to deform this hyperbole by saying that I was comparing Muslims to Nazis are liars and manipulators... Yes, there is occupation and there is illegal occupation... I repeat that a certain number of areas, more and more numerous, are subject to religious laws instead of the laws of the Republic.. I said that it is not a military occupation (...) Saying that there is an occupation in no way attacks freedom of religion, nor does it imply Islamophobia, or discrimination. (...) I wanted to glorify the spirit of resistance that makes us oppose the occupation of the territory. This has been true throughout our history. (...) I hear more and more reports on how, in certain neighborhoods, it is not good to be a woman, or a homosexual, or a Jew, or even a Frenchman, or a white man."
Castano goes on to quote the reactions of Sarkozy's UMP party that warns of a rise in popularity of the Front National. The UMP fears a repeat of 2002 when Jean-Marie Le Pen made it to the second round against Jacques Chirac in the presidential election.
He describes how praying in the street in forbidden in Algeria and yet parts of France are closed off to non-Muslims on Friday afternoon.
And he quotes Bachaga Boualem, a famous Algerian who was a colonel in the French army. Extremely loyal to France, he became a politician and presided over the National Assembly between 1958 and 1962:
"In France they punish those who sound the alarm and they allow those who set the fire to go free."
He closes with a quote from another famous Frenchman, Chateaubriand:
"It is not killing an innocent person as an innocent person that brings about the ruination of society, it is killing him as a guilty person."
Note: José Castano was born in Algeria but escaped to France when the Algerian War ended. Having been a physical education instructor, he now devotes himself to keeping alive the memory of those loyal Frenchmen who perished, often in horrendous circumstances, in that war.