French Jewish man pays repsects to victims of terror attack.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A leader of the French Jewish community on Tuesday slammed remarks by French far-right leader Marine Le Pen that French Jews should give up wearing yarmulkes as part of the country’s struggle to defeat radical Islam.
In an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 that aired Friday, Le Pen expressed support for banning the wearing of yarmulkes as part of her broader effort to outlaw religious symbols in public, Britain’s Jewish Chronicle reported Sunday.
“Honestly, the dangerous situation in which Jews in France live is such that those who walk with a kippa are in any case a minority because they are afraid,” Le Pen said, using the Hebrew word for yarmulke. “But I mainly think the struggle against radical Islam should be a joint struggle and everyone should say, ‘There, we are sacrificing something.’” Referring to French Jews, Le Pen added: “Maybe they will do with just wearing a hat, but it would be a step in the effort to stamp out radical Islam in France.”
Le Pen is a leading contender in the upcoming French presidential contest, with a recent poll showing her advancing to the second round of balloting in May, but still losing handily to front-runner Emmanuel Marcon. Her political party, the National Front, was founded by her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who routinely minimized the Holocaust.
The younger Le Pen has sought to move the party past her father’s controversies, but French Jewish leaders still consider the National Front antisemitic.
Robert Ejnes, the executive director of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions, told The Jerusalem Post that though Le Pen is “much less aggressive than her father, she represents the same old political party, with the same ideas.”
“Only the window was changed, the store remains the same,” he said. “National Front is against the European ideas, against the Euro, for a nationalist idea of France. She befriends all nationalist leaders in Europe.”
Therefore, he said, the suggestion of banning Jews from wearing their kippot in public is against the very idea of the French Republic, which has a responsibility to protect its citizens.
“The concept of Laicité [secularism], which is specific to the French Republic, is a principle of neutrality of the Republic vis-a-vis the religious groups, but it provides the possibility for everyone in France to freely practice its religion,” Ejnes said. “Therefore the principle supported by National Front, and the speech of Marine Le Pen, even though more politically correct than her father’s, is still incompatible with the Jewish values.”