Muslim ‘Occupation’ Remark Sparks Rage

Remarks comparing Muslims who take over streets in parts of Paris and elsewhere for Friday prayers, with the Nazi German occupation of France during World War 11, have provoked outrage across the political spectrum as left and right jockey in the run-up to the 2012 presidential race.

Front National's Marine Le Pen has caused a stir. Photo: Manu_le_manu Wikimedia Commons

With predictably routine anger mainstream parties across the political spectrum reacted after Marine Le Pen, who hopes to succeed her soon-to-retire father as head of the rightwing Front National party, told a Lyon supporters meeting that “neighbourhoods where religious law applies, that’s an occupation”. She was referring specifically to at least three neighbourhoods in Paris where each Friday shopkeepers, residents, tourists and motorists find the kerbside and road blocked by prayer mats and Muslim faithful congregated outside mosques not big enough to accommodate them all for obligatory orations. Socialist Party national secretary Patrick Menucci called her remarks “shameful”. Education Minister Luc Chatel said they were “unacceptable”.

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The row gained unanticipated additional traction by coinciding with the Stockholm suicide bomb atrocity. This has been attributed to an Islamic fanatic who, according to the London Daily Mail, had “spent ten years in the UK being radicalised by local Islamic militants”, a lax London practise of which French intelligence services have long been openly critical.

The Stockholm attack has shocked liberal Sweden and piled further fuel on fires of public discontent over immigration and multiculturalism.

Over the past summer and specifically as celebrations of General de Gaulle’s wartime stand against Nazi occupation in June 1940 reached a highpoint, groups opposed to what they call the “Islamisation” of France, organised street rallies and flash mobs to hold sausage and wine picnics in areas they described as “occupied” by Moslems praying on Fridays. The authorities have subsequently and iliberally warned Facebook France against allowing its platforms to be used for Apéro Géant flashmob parties.

The strength of European voter unrest over immigration and the chasm between the public’s views and those of the Euro-political elite, has been exacerbated by the recession and concomitant eurozone crisis provoked by the 2007 global banking scandal. It is worrying many mainstream politicians and President Nicolas Sarkozy in particular.

For the President and his UMP-l’Union pour un Mouvement Populaire party, have been carefully graduating their toughening stance towards burquas, irregular Rom traveller activities and other security/migration issues to ensure they keep the right from voting for Le Pen. However their strategy has been systematically and effectively eroded by even tougher challenges on policy from the 38-year-old Front National party which believes Marine Le Pen — credited with being able to gain 17% in the first round of 2012 presidential ballot — is now a well entrenched threat.

Indeed the latest Ipsos poll gives Marine Le Pen a 27% approval rating among those questioned and 12% to 14% of voting intentions in the first round of the presidentials.

Matters on the immigration/Islamification front are not made any easier by recent voting lurches rightwards across a number of European countries.
As Nick Ottens a Leiden University commentator on the Atlantic Sentinel blog noted recently: “Throughout Europe, fringe movements have been able to manoeuvre themselves into the political spectrum, rallying anti-immigration forces and a renewed sense of nationalism with considerable electoral success. While the world is globalizing and Europe becoming one, millions of people, from Finland to Italy, want to have no part of multiculturalism and change…”

By way of example he noted that the Sweden Democrats unexpectedly took seats in the Stockholm parliament recently, the True Finns are a minor but growing faction in Finland, the Progress Party in Norway represents more than 20% of the electorate and the Danish People’s Party aspires to power or influence in that country while in the Netherlands Islam critic Geert Wilders more than doubled his party’s representation in parliament in the last election.

It is however oversimplifying matters to call these groups “far right”, as so many in the media do from obvious short-hand necessity. Here is Nick Ottens again: “No matter the outward symbolism of bans on the burqa and opposition to building any more mosques is concerned, what has angered voters most is a fear of foreign immigrants living comfortably off Europe’s generous welfare provisions. While all of these fringe movements are labelled as “far right,” they are usually very adamant in their support of a social safety net. Nearly all of them explicitly favour the welfare state and oppose labour and pension reforms which major parties, both left and right, regard as necessary. Popular support for the European Union and multiculturalism can no longer be taken for granted by the establishment.”

Nevertheless as the economic crisis worsens a reassessment does seem to be under way over long-held European views that “migration is good”. France’s most powerful partner and the EU’s banker, Germany recently signalled a rethink. To the surprise of many Chancellor Angela Merkel stated forcefully that multiculturalism had failed.

And back on the domestic front political scientist Dominique Reynié, commenting on the rising political star that is Marine Le Pen, told Le Post newspaper online: “Marine Le Pen is formidable because she hits hard, hits well and strikes where it hurts. Unlike her father, she manages to generate consensus around herself, without at the same time causing her supporters any inconvenience”.

French journalist Roman Pigenel writing in the same paper asked whether politicians of all stripes lining up to tongue lash Le Pen had not fallen neatly into the trap she had set.

“What emerges from this cacophony, ultimately, for the uninformed voter listening to all the exchanges? Well what they hear is that in “some places “, Muslims occupy the street to pray and nobody is questioning or denying that this is a problem, but in reality it is not really possible to discuss this, because Marine Le Pen’s remarks have triggered a general hue and cry against ” racism ” and ” return of a vile beast.” This in turn means that those of us who are reluctant to see religious ceremonies taking place on public streets cannot voice those concerns without being labelled Islamophobic. Thus the voices raised have made it seem as if this street occupation was normal and acceptable, but without bothering to explain why. Le Pen has thus set a trap crudely sprung by her opponents who jumped on the remarks, commenting on trivia, while leaving the serious core issue undiscussed and at the same time, giving the FN a huge amount of publicity.

“The messy attitude of a feverish political class when facing Marine Le Pen is reminiscent of the left’s efforts to attack Nicolas Sarkozy over security.
In debating the FN issues it is essential to hold Marine Le Pen to account and make her verify the statements she makes which are often wrong or incomplete. In the current row, it would have been very useful seriously to discuss the merits of the issue, to reiterate a few simple principles about the importance of neutrality in the public realm, and point to the lack of places of worship – which easily deflates the charges of voluntary occupation of public thoroughfares.”

Meanwhile in a related development Lies Hebbadj’s burqua-bedecked partner Sandra Moulères has had her case dropped and a 22 euro fine overturned in the court at Nantes. She had originally been stopped and fined by a policeman in Nantes on April 2 on the grounds that her peripheral driving vision was affected by her wearing of the full veil at the wheel of her car. The affair blew up into a major political scandale as FrenchNewsOnline reported at the time.

The full remarks made by Marine Le Pen at the Lyon meeting can be heard here on this YouTube clip which includes the criticisms voiced by politicians across the spectrum.

Story: Ken Pottinger

Further reading:
The EU position on immigration
French concerns over immigration
Anti-immigrant wave spreads across Europe

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8 Responses to Muslim ‘Occupation’ Remark Sparks Rage

  1. Pingback: Political Campaign Expert » Blog Archive » Muslim 'Occupation' Remark Sparks Rage « French News Online Newsroom

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  3. S T Vaughan December 14, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Britain and France have immigration problems, and sadly we have no solution to to the problem the mathematics are simple, Muslims are out breeding Christians and because of our benefits systems they are being financially rewarded for doing so, Europe is heading for a cultural and religious meltdown, and it seems that politically no middle of the road party has either the will or the ability to face the problem and solve it, the streets of Paris like the streets of Birmingham in some areas are virtual no go areas for white Christians.
    S T Vaughan Birmingham B14 4EA

  4. Pingback: Socialists Shamed by Street Prayers « French News Online Newsroom

  5. Dennis January 8, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Poor old Europe, it has been a constant ‘battle’ always struggling against ‘some-one else’ trying to ‘take-it-over’. The Nazi analogy, while crude, is relevant, but to pay immigrants benefits, with which to whip us, is quite bizarre.

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  7. Pingback: Marine Le Pen Faces “Hate Speech” Charges | FrenchNewsOnline

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