Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder and former leader of the right-wing National Front party (FN) in France, said on the party’s website that the “naïvete” of the Norwegian government was more troubling (“plus grave“) than the killing of 77 people last week by Anders Behring Breivik. Le Pen also said that Norway had failed to understand the “extent of danger wide-scale immigration poses to the world” (“la mesure du danger mondial que représentent d’abord l’immigration massive”). According to the the French newspaper Le Monde, Le Pen’s remarks put in danger the National Front’s “strategy of respectability” (“la stratégie de ‘respectabilisation”‘) — a strategy initiated by the party’s current leader, Le Pen’s youngest daughter, Marine Le Pen.
Jean-Marie Le Pen also said that the killings were an “accident by one individual” (“cet accident d’un individu”).
Following last Friday’s attacks in Norway, Marine Le Pen had issued a statement on July 24:
“The National Front condemns these barbarian and cowardly acts and expresses its total solidarity with the people of Norway.
(“Le FN condamne ces actes barbares et lâches et exprime sa totale solidarité avec le peuple norvégien.”)
On July 23, the day after the bombing in Oslo and the massacre on the island of Utøya at a camp for young members of Norway’s ruling Labor party, Laurent Ozon, an officer of the FN, wrote on Twitter:
“Explain what happened in Oslo: explosion of immigration : (multiplied by six) between 1970 and 2009″ (“Expliquer le drame d’Oslo : explosion de l’immigration : (multipliée par six) entre 1970 et 2009.”)
“Explain what happened in Oslo: from 1970 to 2009, x 58 (multiplication by 58 of the number of) immigrants of African-Middle-Eastern origin”…Towards civil war?” (“Expliquer le drame d’Oslo : de 1970 à 2009, X58 (multiplication par cinquante-huit du nombre d’) immigrés d’origine afro-orientale (…). Vers la guerre civile ?”)
Marine Le Pen immediately responded that “Laurent Ozon has it wrong” (“Laurent Ozon fait fausse route”).
As Le Monde observes, this is the second time that Jean-Marie Le Pen has contested one of his daughter’s decisions.
In Oslo, Thorbjørn Jagland, the chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize and a former prime minister of Norway, warned British Prime Minister David Cameron and other European leaders to take a more “cautious” approach when discussing multiculturalism.
Says the Guardian, referring specifically to Marine Le Pen:
Four months ago in Munich, Cameron declared that state multiculturalism had failed in Britain, a view immediately praised by Nick Griffin, leader of the BNP [British National Party], as “a further huge leap for our ideas into the political mainstream”. Marine Le Pen, vice-president of the far-right National Front party in France, also endorsed Cameron’s view of multiculturalism, claiming that it corroborated her own party’s line.
In addition, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said last October that multiculturalism has “utterly failed” in her country.
Referring to Breivik’s saying that he had been inspired by the right-wing English Defence League to target Norway’s center-left government, which had encouraged multiculturalism, Jagland emphasized that
“We have to be very careful how we are discussing these issues, what words are used.
“Political leaders have got to defend the fact that society has become more diverse. We have to defend the reality, otherwise we are going to get into a mess. I think political leaders have to send a clear message to embrace it and benefit from it.
“We should be very cautious now, we should not play with fire. Therefore I think the words we are using are very important because it can lead to much more.”
As an example of the latter, Jagland suggested using the word “diversity” instead of “multiculturalism” due to the different ways different groups understand the latter term. He also said that
“We also need to stop using ‘Islamic terrorism’, which indicates that terrorism is about Islam. We should be saying that terrorism is terrorism and not linked to religion.
In a ten-hour interrogation, Breivik has further stated that he had considered attacking other government targets, including the royal palace, and other member of the Labor party.
It might seem that Jagland’s suggestion to change the words used to discussion ethnic and national differences is mostly symbolic. But in light of the horrific tragedy last week in Norway, and the hateful sentiments expressed by right-wing politicians and movements in Europe and elsewhere, looking carefully at how topics such as immigration are talked about is a place to start.
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Photo of Jean-Marie Le Pen by staffpresi_esj