French far-right leader Marine Le Pen rebukes colleague for attending mosque opening

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen rebukes colleague for attending mosque opening
National Rally MP Joris Hébrard attended the opening of a mosque in France, leading to an angry response from party leadership.
2 min read
27 March, 2023
Le Pen came close to being elected president last year [Getty]

Marine Le Pen, the leader of France's leading far-right party, has reportedly rebuked a colleague for his appearance at the inauguration of a mosque last week.

Joris Hébrard, an MP for Rassemblement National (National Rally), attended the opening of the mosque in Le Pontet, a southern French city he was once mayor of.

The mosque was festooned with French and Turkish flags, the latter due to the city's large Turkish population, during its launch.

An image of Hébrard at the mosque shows him alongside someone who is reportedly a Turkish government-linked official.

His attendance at the ceremony clearly displeased Le Pen, whose party has tried to appear "moderate" but has demanded the introduction of discriminatory laws against French Muslims, dictating what they can wear in public and closing down mosques.

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Le Pen said on Hébrard's appearance at the Muslim place of worship "is a personal initiative that I very clearly disapprove of" and that she hadn't been notified he would be attending, Le Monde reported.

Marion Maréchal, Le Pen's niece and a member of the rival far-right Reconquête party, also hit out at Hébrard's attendance.

"I am extremely disappointed and scandalised by the inauguration of the Turkish mosque in Pontet by National Rally deputy @Joris_Hebrard," she tweeted.

Le Pen and her party have been accused of stoking Islamophobia in their political campaigning.

She has called for a ban on the hijab in public and once shockingly compared Muslims praying on the streets of France to the Nazi occupation, when tens of thousands of French, including around 74,000 Jewish citizens and residents, were murdered.

Although she has been widely condemned for her views internationally, she has performed well in national elections and saw a recent boost over opposition to President Emmanuel Macron's planned pension reforms.

In the run-off of the last presidential elections, Le Pen lost to Macron but still managed to attract 14 million voters.

Analysts say her meteoric rise reflects a wider shift to the right in Europe on immigration.