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Julien Odoul. Photo: RN

An elected RN official challenges a veiled woman

Julien Odoul, a member of Marine Le Pen's National Rally (RN) and other elected RN officials created a controversy by asking a woman accompanying the class of her son to remove her veil at a plenary meeting of the Regional Council of Burgundy-Franche-Comté, on Friday, October 11.

Published: October 13, 2019, 8:46 am

    Odoul denounced the “ethno-cultural provocation” by the visitor.

    The calm visit turned into a tearful one with insults being exchanged. On Friday, the elected RN member Odoul, followed by several of his colleagues, asked the president of the plenary assembly of the Regional Council of Burgundy-Franche-Comté, Marie-Guite Dufay (PS), to order a woman present in the public to remove her veil, reported Le Bien Public.

    The Muslim mother was accompanying the CM2 class of her son who had come to attend the debates in the framework of a partnership between the Region and the Maison de Quartier in downtown Belfort, according to the regional daily.

    Julien Odoul and his group said they would leave if the veiled visitor did not remove her headgear. For the elected representative, “this veil is part of an ethno-cultural provocation, given the current context, especially following the minute of silence made in honor of the four police officers who had died in the attack on the Paris Police Headquarters or the speech of the President of the Republic calling for citizen vigilance against Islamism”.

    “I would like, in the name of our secular principles, to kindly ask the visitor who has just returned to this room to remove her Islamic veil,” Julien Odoul demanded from the president of the assembly.

    Some members in the assembly, the elected officials of the RN then left the room, before denouncing in a statement an “Islamist provocation”.

    “It’s the Republic here”, a colleague of Julien Odoul said loudly. “This is the law of the Republic, no ostentatious signs,” added the elected representative, who believes the presence of this veiled woman was “a scandalous attack on our principle of secularism”.

    The president finally remarked: “Well, that’s it you’ve calmed down?” But her comment was followed by a sequence of loud whispering right after her address: “Oh no! Really! We should have checked!”. The veiled woman eventually left, with her son in tears.

    Dufay replied that neither the regional council’s rules nor the law prohibited the wearing of the veil in the hemicycle, according to the full video of the plenary assembly, available on the website of the community. She then denounced the staged walk-out by the RN in a statement, as a “surge of hatred” and condemned the behavior of the RN as “unworthy of elected officials of the Republic”.

    The Socialist Party president added in a tweet: “I’m going to Belfort on Tuesday to meet the children, their teachers and companions.” She said she spoke “at length with this [veiled] mother to bring her all the support”.

    The rules of procedure do not stipulate the prohibition of the veil and the law of 2010 only prohibits the hiding of the face in public spaces. Julien Odoul admitted that, but he said the law should be changed. “I recall that the ostentatious port of religious signs is prohibited in the National Assembly,” he explained.

    His attack was clearly not to everyone’s taste. In a tweet, the Minister for Gender Equality, Marlene Schiappa, coldly replied to Julien Odoul on her Twitter account. Odoul had asked for this ban “on behalf of all women who struggle in the world to just extricate themselves of the Islamic dictatorship” but the Minister said that the “RN was not qualified to speak ‘on behalf of women who fight for their rights everywhere'”.

    Other attacks were also noted, including the one by radio host Raphael Enthoven: “Bastard is not an insult, but a statement about Julien Odoul. What other word for an elected official who humiliates a mother in front of her son? It is not secularism that you defend, it is the right to hate under the pretext of secularism,” said Enthoven, yet he claims that he is also opposed to the wearing of the veil.

    Earlier in the morning, Julien Odoul even received a private message on Twitter where the journalist Claude Askolovitch called him a “bastard”.

    “To pick on a woman in front of children, it’s disgusting,” said Sophie Montel, former head of the regional branch of the RN in Burgundy-Franche-Comté.

    But the person concerned, brushed off these accusations of indecency: “At no time did I address this woman, but only the legal authority, the president,” said the elected RN member.

    He said he has no regrets: “Why should I regret it? I defended our republican and secular principles. A few weeks ago, a majority of French people were angered by the AFPCE campaign which featured a veiled school accompanist. All the Frenchmen, attached to the equality of men and women, to the dignity of women, were shocked by this poster”.

    Muslim mothers protested in May this year against the Republican Party amendment in the Blanquer law which provided for banning school trips when parents wear ostentatious religious symbols, while French citizens welcomed the law.

    The video of the incident that occurred on Friday at the Regional Council of Burgundy-Franche-Comté, was posted online by an elected official of the National Rally and quickly went viral on Saturday afternoon, with more than a million views in less than 24 hours.

    An Ifip-Fiducial poll this week showed that two-thirds of French voters support a ban on women wearing the headscarf during school outings.

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    • LuciusAnnaeusSeneca

      Good on M. Odoul and his supporters. They ensured that a stage-managed event by the socialists did not turn out as anticipated. As this event was broadcast, it’s likely that Odoul and the RN had a lot of Frenchmen agreeing with him. However, a lot probably remain unwilling to say so publicly.

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