Civitas vs Caroline Fourest
There are repercussions to Sunday's Civitas march against gay marriage and adoption. Some of these after-effects are understandable, such as a lawsuit by Civitas against the feminist group Femen. Others are of concern, such as Marine Le Pen's detachment from the Catholic cause, even though she expressed some sympathy with Saturday's rally that brought together everyone who is against gay marriage, not just Catholics.
Jacques Bompard, mayor of Orange and deputy in the National Assembly, who participated in the Civitas march has described what happened on Sunday, as the rally was getting started:
"The extremists of Femen violently attacked the rally, spraying the demonstrators, including children in carriages and the security personnel, with fire extinguishers," insists the deputy. Worse, the Ukrainian militants from Femen were "naked with anti-Christian and obscene slogans on their chests, shouting in front of young children," he wrote in his communiqué. "Contrary to what government spokeswoman Mme Vallaud-Belkacem affirms, the provocations and the calls to hatred came from the aggressors and not from the demonstrators," he added, condemning the attack "perpetrated by extreme-left-wing militants that belong to an activist fringe group."
The article reminds us that five arrests have been made among the "aggressors", but we don't know who they are. Outsiders? Members of the Femen group? Confederates of the Femen? Or members of Civitas? Earlier reports said they were connected to the Front National. That seems to be totally untrue.
The problem I am having is with the word "aggressors". Bompard speaks of the aggressors as the ones who attacked with fire extinguishers, i.e. the Femen group itself, but so far as I know, they were not arrested and held. They were merely removed in police vans. Caroline Fourest (photo above), the lesbian militant who aided the Femen group, speaks of Civitas as the "aggressor".
Until more specific information is available about the arrests, it might be best to stick to the hypothesis that the Femen attacked first, then some of the Civitas demonstrators went after the Femen. This would make sense and be completely justified, considering the chain of events. And Civitas would have acted in self-defense and in defense of children, so they cannot be called aggressors.
Both Civitas and Caroline Fourest have filed lawsuits against each other. An article at France TV Info describes the possible penalties both sides risk in court:
What does Civitas accuse the Femen of?
- The Femen came illegally to counter-demonstrate, without an announcement beforehand. They are guilty of sexual exhibitionism especially in front of children, of group violence with weapons used even against children, of making a concerted effort to block the freedom to demonstrate through threats, violence and open disobedience of the law ("voie de fait"), as well as offenses toward Civitas and the demonstrators by reason of their adherence to the Catholic religion.
What penalty might they receive?
- According to Maître Eolas (an attorney), six months in prison, and a fine of 7,500 euros for an "unannounced demonstration". The Femen would also risk a year in prison and 15,000 euros for exhibitionism, and three years plus 45,000 euros for bringing weapons, in this case, fire extinguishers. Finally they would risk five years in prison and 75,000 euros for "group violence with a weapon that did not result in a work stoppage" (the use of fire extinguishers).
Caroline Fourest announced she would sue Civitas. The Civitas Institute defends itself against accusations of excesses that took place during the march. "Contrary to what some media and politicians claim, no member of Civitas was guilty of any violence toward these Femen," it declared.
What does Civitas risk?
- According to Maître Eolas, the aggressors risk three years in prison and 45,000 euros for group violence. "If the work stoppage is more than eight days, then the penalty is five years and 75,000 euros," said the attorney.
Note: Apparently in France the number of days you cannot work as a result of an attack is a factor in the sentencing.
The idea that what these girls do is considered "work" is comical, although this probably refers to any legitimate employment they may have.
As for Marine Le Pen, after her lack of enthusiasm for the occupation of the Poitiers mosque, she has continued what appears to be a policy of extreme caution, declaring in a television interview that she "probably" felt closer to "those who demonstrated Saturday", than to those who participated in the Civitas march. She and her vice-president Florian Philipot both kept their distance from Sunday's march, even though some members of the Front National participated, including European deputy Bruno Gollnisch and another vice-president of the FN, Marie-Christine Arnatu, who marched "on her own." Philipot declared:
"There was a great demonstration on Saturday, it was a family affair, and fun (…) and then there was the demonstration yesterday (Sunday) that went off the tracks"
This does not sound right to me at all. Either Marine Le Pen has suddenly changed her whole view of the crisis in France, or she is playing a game, so as not to antagonize certain members of her own party. She has to appear as a "républicaine", not as a Catholic. In truth, she probably has no affinity for Civitas which is a traditional Catholic movement that openly seeks to re-Christianize France. It is closely connected to the SSPX Society of Saint Pius X.
I must remind myself that 67% of the Front National wanted Barack Obama to be reelected. Marine Le Pen rid the party of most antisemites, but if she were to rid the party of anti-Americans, there would be no party left.
Below, a four-minute video of the mêlée. Once they start spraying their fire extinguishers, it's hard to know what's happening. Except for the Femen, and the police, I don't know who anybody is. Readers' comments indicate that the men shoving the women are fathers acting in defense of their children. Other readers say they should never have reacted like this since it is not worthy of a Catholic.
"Turning the other cheek" can be done only once. If there is on-going danger, and your child is in peril, no father would do otherwise, nor is there anything I know of in the Bible that encourages parents to allow their children to be harmed or offended by harlots.
Update: January 19, 2013 - The original video was removed by YouTube. I have replaced it with a shorter version.
You can visit the English-language version of the Femen website here. It's pretty grim.