Posts tagged "Front National"

What’s currently the main preoccupation of the French? Unemployment? The fate of the euro? Spending power? No. It’s halal meat, the ritual way of killing animals by Muslims for human consumption. At least, that’s what outgoing president and candidate for his own re-election Nicolas Sarkozy told an audience this week. His claim raised eyebrows as some thought it strange to focus on this topic when France and Europe were in the middle of the debt crisis, with unemployment on the rise.

But these are election times in France, and the explanation for Sarkozy’s statement lies in one name: Marine Le Pen. Three weeks earlier, the candidate for the extreme right anti-immigration National Front, raised the halal question in a very provocative way. She claimed – wrongly – that all the meat on sale in the greater Paris region was killed in the Muslim ritual way, without consumers being informed.

In the wake of this statement, Sarkozy was visiting the Rungis wholesale market for food, outside Paris. He pointed out that the true figure was that only 2.5% of the meat consumed in the greater Paris region was halal, and that it was not an issue. But opinion polls show Sarkozy’s campaign in great difficulty, trailing behind the Socialist party candidate François Hollande, and permanently threatened by Le Pen in third place.

No one was surprised, therefore, to hear interior minister Claude Guéant, a close ally and confidant of Sarkozy, attack the Socialists at the end of last week, claiming that their proposal to allow foreign residents in French towns to vote for local elections would lead to halal meat being imposed on all children in public school canteens. His argument was that foreigners with voting rights might influence local governments and push their own agenda – whether in school canteens, or in public swimming pools with separate hours for men and women. The argument quickly became a running joke on Twitter: some commentators said that if Alsacians had voting rights, children would have to eat choucroute, Alsace’s national dish, or if people from France’s southwest could vote, they would eat foie gras and drink Bordeaux wine …

The jokes stopped two days later when Sarkozy, in a major election speech, proposed a change to the law to impose transparency on the way animals were killed, a U-turn on his earlier comment that this was not an issue. This statement provoked anger not only among Muslims, who felt they were being used as an electioneering tool, but also Jews whose kosher meat follows the same ritual ways of killing as halal meat. Richard Prasquier, the head of the Jewish representative council in France, condemned the claims. He had been, until then, a staunch Sarkozy supporter. Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, spokeswoman of Sarkozy’s campaign, distanced herself from the controversy.

Obviously Le Pen, having imposed her political agenda to the outgoing president, is laughing all the way to the polling booth, which is adding to the sense of panic in the presidential camp. Sarkozy had hoped that his official entry into the campaign would boost his support in opinion polls, pushing him into first place in the first round of voting on 22 April.

Guardian

"A furious row has flared after it emerged that approval has been granted to the formation of an alliance of seven European extreme right wing political parties.

These include the British National Party (BNP), which had two MEPs elected in the last European elections, the French Front National and Hungary’s Jobbik.

The new pan-European grouping, called the “Alliance of European Nationalist Movements”, will qualify for a reported €289,266 of EU taxpayers’ money.

The AENM may also qualify for more European money next year.

News of the new group emerged on Thursday at parliament’s plenary in Strasbourg.

Formal approval for the new group was given at a meeting on Monday by parliament’s bureau, which comprises the assembly’s president and vice presidents.

Reaction to the news was swift, with UK S&D member Claude Moraes, calling for a ‘boycott’ of the new group.

He said, “It’s a shameful week for democracy in Europe. Let’s hope this also will be a rallying cry for anti-fascists throughout the EU to work harder together to stop the pan-European far right.”

He said, “There are pan-European alliances of political parties from the centre right Christian Democrats through to the Greens, including the Party of European Socialists which includes the British Labour Party as a member, and we all respect one another’s differences and work together.

"I hope that none of the other parties work with this alliance of racists and neo-fascists.

"Two BNP MEPs were elected at the last European elections in 2009 and they are now in a close alliance with the Front National in France, who may achieve success in the French presidential elections in the summer, and Jobbik which has been a government coalition partner in Hungary.

"There are very strict rules about how this political funding can be spent. These include respect for democracy and human rights. We will keep a very close eye to make sure this new grouping stick to the rules.

"This is why we believe this decision is wrong, and we will closely monitor how this neo-fascist grouping spends their money," Moraes said.

The BNP failed to form an alliance of far right MEPs in parliament, but it was decided by the institution that this did not preclude them from forming a pan-European political party.

Further comment came from Edward McMillan-Scott, a vice president of parliament, who said the establishment of the new group gave “cause for real concern”.

The UK ALDE deputy added, “I have been tracking the rise of the far right for a few years and in the last European elections we saw the rise of far right parties in ten of member states.

"The formation of this new group is further proof that these groups have been collaborating since that time and will present a joint platform at the next elections in 2014."

"Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of France’s far right Front National, has been convicted of contesting crimes against humanity for saying the Nazi occupation was not “particularly inhumane”.

A Paris appeals court upheld the three-month suspended prison sentence and €10,000 (£8,283) fine handed to Le Pen in 2009.

Le Pen had told the far-right magazine Rivarol in 2005: “in France at least the German occupation was not particularly inhumane, even if there were a number of excesses – inevitable in a country of 550,000 sq km.”

He added: “If the Germans had carried out mass executions across the country as the received wisdom would have it, then there wouldn’t have been any need for concentration camps for political deportees.”

Aided by the collaborationist Vichy government, German authorities deported more than 70,000 French Jews to death camps during the occupation from 1940 to 1944. Thousands of French civilians died in reprisals by the German army. France has strict laws against denying the Holocaust and contesting crimes against humanity.”