There’s an article by Nabila Ramdani on the new Front Nationale leader, Marine Le Pen, on Comment is Free:
When she met me for the first time in Paris before the 2007 presidential election, Marine gently played on my ethnic origin (I come from a French Algerian background), fixing me with a beaming white smile and declaring: “We could do with plenty more like you in the party – you’re very welcome to join.” Why should a woman like me support an overtly racist party, which places an “anti” before almost every policy statement, whether it relates to globalisation, Europe, Islam, or anything else, I asked? “Because first and foremost we’re all French – it’s a question of loyalty,” Marine replied enigmatically, displaying her fondness for the banal soundbite traditionally associated with successful rabble-rousers.
Marine has certainly worked hard to play down her core values and soften the FN’s image. She has disassociated herself from some of Jean-Marie’s more outrageous sentiments, which include viewing the Holocaust as a “detail” of the second world war and complaining that there were too many coloured players in France’s 1998 World Cup-winning football team.
There’s also an article by Soumaya Ghannoushi on CiF today, in which she discusses her father’s party, An Nadha. Rachid Ghannoushi has just announced his intention to return to Tunisia in an interview in the Financial Times:
I decided to return because the cause for which I left Tunisia has now disappeared. I was sentenced to life imprisonment (three life sentences, when one would have been enough), and I did not accept to spend the rest of my life in prison. I had to defend my right to freedom.
Now Ben Ali has gone, the natural state is for me to be inside the country, to be involved. The dictator has fallen, but the dictatorship is still there. I wish to be involved in contributing alongside others to the dismantling of the dictatorship and to help in the process of taking Tunisia from the dictatorial system to a democratic one. To help in these efforts to take Tunisia though this transitional process.
We’ll go back to organising ourselves and contribute to the education of the new generation through our moderate, democratic thought.
Our thought is similar to that of the AKP (Justice and Development Party) in Turkey, currently in government. Indeed my books have almost all been translated into Turkish and are widely read there.
However I have no political aspirations myself, neither for standing as a minister, for parliament or president. Some are presenting me as a Khomeini who will return to Tunisia – I am no Khomeini.
The natural state is for me to be in Tunisia. As for the timing I have left this for my brothers, members of the Nahda have been informed of my intention and desire to go back, and arrangements have been left with them to prepare. Indeed the day they say ‘come’, I will go back.
Rachid Ghannoushi is no moderate. He is a Le Pen-type figure, with a history of declaring other Muslims to be “kuffar“, trying to get secularists sacked, supporting suicide bombing, and accusing intellectuals (falsely) of defaming Mohammed. Here are a few of the men he identifies as his political heroes:
I dedicate it also to my symbolic fathers and on top of the list the shahid Hassan al-Bannah, Mawlana Abu al-A’la al-Mawdudi, al-shahid Sayyed Qutb, our professor Malek Ben Nabi, and the mujaddid and leader Hassan al-Turabi. I also dedicate it to the leader of the modern Islamic revolution al-Imam al-Khomayni
Nevertheless, we can no more say that Soumaya shares her fathers extreme and obnoxious politics, than we can reach that conclusion in relation to Marine Le Pen. After all, Le Pen Jr herself claims to be a new and fluffy sort of fascist:
There are no figures for the ethnicity of voters in the secular French republic, but Marine claims that 8% of the FN’s votes in the 2007 election came from people with an Arabic background. She points to the fact that six of the FN’s candidates out of 22 in recent regional elections were women, and says that female votes are “growing”.
Here’s Ghannoushi Sr promoting his own brand of extremism as a bulwark against even greater extremism:
When Nahda was in Tunisia, functioning inside Tunisia there was no al-Qaeda and there were no violent acts, whereas now there are hundreds of Tunisian youths who are involved in fighting in Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan due to not having the opportunity to be familiar with a moderate Islamic movement and have been influenced by al-Qaeda’s ideology.
On that basis, surely all sensible anti-fascists should also be supporting Marine Le Pen, as the only way that we can save ourselves from white supremacist terrorist groups, like Combat 18 and the British People’s Party.
Or, then again, perhaps not.
I don’t think we’ll be seeing a column by Marine Le Pen in the Guardian soon. But we’ve had two by Ghannoushi’s daughter, in two weeks.