At the start, some fifty personalities, according to leftwing French daily Libération , had supported a demonstration to say “STOP Islamophobia” and the “growing stigmatization” of Muslims scheduled to take place on Sunday, November 10 in Paris.
Marine Le Pen said however that the people joining the initiative will be walking “hand in hand with Islamists”, reported French daily Le Figaro on Saturday, November 9.
It was on the sidelines of a visit to the “Made in France” exhibition that the President of the National Rally spoke on the issue. “This is a demonstration organised by Islamists. All those who participate in this demonstration will walk hand in hand with Islamists, that is to say those who in our country have developed a totalitarian ideology that aims to fight the laws of the French Republic,” said Marine Le Pen.
Her statement was all the more legitimized, according to her, by the terms used for the platform as well as the identities of some of its initiators, who have either said that the left should not associate with the march or those who had partially withdrawn their initial support.
Le Pen primarily attacked one of her rivals, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who had expressed his support for the event. She said all those involved “bear a great deal of responsibility” in participating. “I have called La France Insoumise ‘Islamist France’ [IF, the same abbreviation in French for both, ed.]. I think that in this area also I was right.”
Marine Le Pen reminded Mélanchon of the contradictions in his stated policies. “I remember a Jean-Luc Mélenchon many years ago who fought against Islamist fundamentalism, who fought against the term ‘Islamophobia’, who fought against the veil,” she said.
And to drive her point home, she added: “I see that he threw all that in the trash, that he is in an operation of true betrayal of his sympathizers and his voters”.
In 2010 the leader of the Insubordinate France party, in an interview, reacted to the nomination by the New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) of a veiled candidate for a regional election. Asked about the “atmosphere of Islamophobia” mentioned by the candidate, Mélanchon had been particularly outspoken.
“They stigmatize themselves – because what is wearing the veil, if not inflicting a stigma – and then they complain about the stigma they feel they have suffered,” he said. “Think of all those people who simply do not have any religion”.
Was it possible to be a Feminist, secular and veiled, in the eyes of Jean-Luc Mélenchon in 2010? Clearly not, because at the time, he lamented that there was “a confusion of roles”.
“You can not call yourself a feminist by displaying a sign of patriarchal submission,” he explained then, judging that “the political debate should not be held on religious grounds” and that “the transition to religion and ostentation […] prevents unity”.
“We have the feeling that she does it for show only. This is not acceptable,” he said of the veiled anti-capitalist candidate, who, he said, was guilty of “an immature and somewhat ludicrous attitude that says ‘mine to me'”.
Asked in the same year about the wearing of the burqa – the full veil – Jean-Luc Mélenchon was even more vehement, lambasting the garment as a “degrading treatment”, a “fundamentalist provocation against the Republic” and “an absurdity”.
He even promised that he would ban the burqa if he came to power. On Saturday, Mélenchon was keen to clarify the reasons for his participation in the march against Islamophobia. “I am not Jewish, but I will never offer my silence to those who want to persecute them,” he said in a note on his blog.
It remains to be seen how the voters of Jean-Luc Mélenchon will react. Mélanchon himself recalled on Thursday in a blog post the need to “block when the essential is at stake”.
He once again voiced support for the controversial march, without specifying if he will attend the event himself. But the deputy of Bouches-du-Rhone is not backed by everyone in his party on the issue.
The event has certainly divided the left: While the extreme left has maintained its support, despite the controversy, many of the signatories who had initially supported of the march, have retracted their support. Only politicians of the far-left have pledged support to the CCIF, and said that they would indeed be present in the procession.
The Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) – an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood – is thus no longer able mobilize the different leftist political factions. In less than a week, several main supporters have abandoned the collective.