PARIS (Oct. 29)
The extreme-right mayor of the French Mediterranean port city of Toulon triggered an outcry this week when he objected to a planned tribute to Jewish writer Marek Halter at a book fair in November.
Jean-Marie Le Chevalier of the National Front said the tribute was “inopportune” because Halter, a survivor of the Warsaw ghetto, was in favor of immigration in France.
The Front, whose leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, won 15 percent of the vote in last year’s presidential elections, proposes sending immigrants to their countries of origin and giving French nationals priority for everything from jobs to housing.
“I am very upset,” Halter said. “Since I arrived in France at the age of 14, after having lived under two dictatorships, it’s the first time I have felt I was the object of racism.”
Le Chevalier said he preferred to pay tribute to sex symbol Brigitte Bardot, who recently published her memoirs.
Bardot, who has devoted herself to defending animal rights since retiring from acting, is married to a member of the National Front.
She caused an controversy recently by openly praising Le Pen and verbally attacking Arab immigrants.
Culture Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy has proposed taking over the book fair from municipal authorities so that the tribute could take place as planned.
Several writers have openly supported Halter, whose most famous work is “Abraham’s Memoirs,” the story of a Jewish family’s wanderings over many centuries.