Le Pen blames French governments for Islamist attacks

‘What we are living through is the result of 20 years of errors,’ says National Front leader

Marine Le Pen mocked the French foreign minister Laurent Fabius for avoiding the word “Islamist” and for referring to Islamic State by their Arabic name, Daesh. Photograph: Yoan Valat

Marine Le Pen mocked the French foreign minister Laurent Fabius for avoiding the word “Islamist” and for referring to Islamic State by their Arabic name, Daesh. Photograph: Yoan Valat

 

After remaining mostly quiet following the attacks of January 7th-9th, National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen has blamed the atrocities on long- standing government policies in a press conference, on France’s leading morning radio programme and in an opinion piece for the New York Times.

“Beyond the emotion, on the political level, not much has changed and not much will change,” Le Pen predicted on France Inter radio yesterday. Regarding the state of the police force, public schools, “republican values” and the defence budget, she said, “Le Pen quoted the great writer Albert Camus who said that “to misname things is to add to the world’s unhappiness”. Writing in the New York Times, she mocked the French foreign minister Laurent Fabius for avoiding the word “Islamist” and for referring to Islamic State, the fundamentalist extremists who have taken over much of Iraq and Syria, by their Arabic name, Daesh.

“Let us call things by their rightful names, since the French government seems reluctant to do so,” Le Pen wrote, echoing a sentiment expressed by right-wing voters since the attacks.

Muslims “need the distinction between Islamist terrorism and their faith to be made clearly”, Le Pen continued. “Islamist terrorism is a cancer on Islam, and Muslims themselves must fight it at our side.”

‘Waves of immigration’

Europe

Le Pen wants to re-establish border controls, but rejects the French government’s call for a US-style passenger name record (PNR) because “it’s an old American demand” that would create the conditions of a police state.

In foreign policy, France intervened in Libya under Nicolas Sarkozy, supported some Syrian fundamentalists under François Hollande, and has maintained alliances with Qatar and Saudi Arabia, who finance jihadism. Le Pen singled out Sarkozy for criticism, saying the party he leads has been “embarrassed” by his close links with Qatar.

Regardless of past policies, the socialist government has made a stunning comeback on the strength of its response to the attacks. Hollande received a 40 per cent approval rating in a Paris Match Ifop poll on Monday – a 21 per cent rise unprecedented in French polling. Yet only 23 per cent of respondents want Hollande to be re-elected in 2017, leaving that contest wide open.

Approval ratings

Charlie Hebdo Pascal Perrineau

“This crisis shows that, on a diagnostical level, the FN can claim to have been right first,” Perrineau says. “For nearly a decade, the FN has been saying that immigration is a vector of radical Islamisation that will pose huge problems for the country, an atmosphere approaching civil war . . .”

But for the time being, the FN “hasn’t managed to capitalise on the pertinence of their predictions”, Perrineau notes, in part because Le Pen is constantly forced to dissociate herself from more radical pronouncements in her entourage.

The FN member of the European parliament Aymeric Chauprade, whom Le Pen has just fired as her diplomatic adviser, posted a video online in which he said the “breeding ground of Islamic terrorism is huge, something like a million . . . a powerful fifth column that live among us and may at any moment turn against us in the event of a general confrontation”.

Video claims

Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie, also embarrassed her, by crediting conspiracy theories – popular among Muslims – which portray the assassins as stooges of the US and Israel.

In an interview with the vehemently anti-American Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, the elder Le Pen compared the identity papers left by the Kouachi brothers in their getaway car with the intact passport of a 9/11 hijacker found in the ruins of the World Trade Center.

“The shooting at Charlie Hebdo resembles a secret service operation but we have no proof of that . . . I don’t think it was organised by the French authorities, but they permitted this crime to be committed,” Le Pen said. He later alleged he was mistranslated, but did not withdraw the comments. Marine Le Pen told France Inter that “woolly conspiracy theories” are “dangerous because they distance the French from the necessary lucidity regarding the causes of what happened”.