The right and the far-right in France are using a recent murder, for which an irregular female immigrant is currently under investigation, for political gain – behaviour that the left, but also the majority linked to President Emmanuel Macron, have criticised as shameful.
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French authorities launched investigations on Monday (17 October) against the woman for the murder of a 12-year-old girl whose body was found in a suitcase with signs of rape and torture. Another man is also being investigated, and two others are being questioned by authorities in connection to the gruesome murder.
It did not take long for the murder to take a political turn.
The day after the investigation was launched, right-wing and far-right lawmakers started questioning the government about its handling of the situation during government question time in the national assembly.
Government lax on immigration?
Right-wing Les Républicains Deputy Éric Pauget criticised the government for its lax immigration policy, noting that “this child was martyred, raped, and killed by an illegal immigrant who was under obligation to leave French territory.”
The Justice Ministry is thus responsible because of the “failure to enforce these court decisions”, he said, adding that the murder should not have happened and that it is “the heavy consequence of your inaction”.
In response, Justice Minister Éric Dupond-Moretti said the “main suspect […] is unknown to the police” and that the female immigrant’s obligation to leave the French territory did not force her “to leave the territory immediately”.
He then reproached the right-wing politician who questioned him for “playing petty politics [and] using the coffin of a 12-year-old girl as a stepping stone. It’s a disgrace”.
Dupond-Moretti also addressed deputies from Marine Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National (RN), accusing them of “being at the rendezvous of misfortune, which you have been making your honey for years” – comments that were followed by a round of applause from Macron’s majority in parliament, as well as by left-wing groups.
Shortly afterwards, Le Pen herself took the stand to question the government.
“Too many crimes and offences are committed by illegal immigrants whom we did not want to or were unable to send back home,” she said.
Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne then called on Le Pen to show “a little decency” and “respect the pain of the family and the memory of Lola”, the murdered girl.
“Let the police and the justice system do their job”, she added.
Left and the majority in unison
In what is a rare sight in the assembly, left-wing deputies stood up and applauded the answers of Dupond-Moretti and Borne, sharing the government’s outrage at the right-wing camp.
It is “quite shameful that some try to make a xenophobic policy” by instrumentalising the murder of the young girl, Mathilde Panot, president of the radical-left La France Insoumise, told France 2 on Wednesday morning.
“When we see the carnivorous smile of Marine Le Pen during the answer of the prime minister, we say to ourselves that there is always a desire on the part of the RN to surf on the dramas that dominate the news,” Socialist Party leader Olivier Faure also said.
“The only attitude that is valid is that of recollection and compassion with [the] family,” he told LCP on Tuesday evening.
Zemmour also in the spotlight
Reconquête!, the far-right anti-immigration party of Éric Zemmour, which has no MPs in parliament, also decided to take advantage of the murder.
Entities close to his party, like the Damoclès association of Samuel Lafont, even bought internet domain names linked or probably connected to Lola, including names like ‘justicepourlola’ or ‘manifpourlola’ – a way for a political party to collect user data illegally Raphael Grably, a digital expert, posted on Twitter.
The party’s leaders announced that they would attend the march in memory of Lola scheduled for Thursday, although the young girl’s family said that it does not accept politicians using the tragedy to their advantage.
French lawmakers at loggerheads as budget talks intensify
Discussions on the French budget got off to a tense start in the National Assembly this week as the opposition dismissed the proposed fiscal plan as “austerity” and the government insisted that it protects households.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic/Alice Taylor]