(JTA) — The French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, who supported France’s military intervention in Libya, was barred from visiting there because he is Jewish.
Levy, a celebrity in France, was supposed to join former French President Nicolas Sarkozy on a visit that began Tuesday in Tripoli, according to a report on the news website Rue89.
The website reported that Levy had to stay behind at the insistence of municipal bosses in Tripoli. Speaking on condition of anonymity, one city official told Rue89, “We did not invite him and we’ll close the door in his face if he comes. If the prime minister invited him, he can stay with the prime minister.”
An unnamed spokesperson for the city of Tripoli was quoted as telling Rue89 that the fact that Levy is Jewish could have exposed the municipality to attacks by Islamist militia.
Levy was a vocal supporter for French military intervention in Libya against Muammar Gadhafi and in favor of the rebel forces whose revolution led to the rise to power of Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan. The news website said Zeidan personally invited Levy in January.
A spokesperson from Zeidan’s office confirmed to Rue89 that the municipality asked Levy not to attend the visit.
The website quoted an unnamed source described as “close to Levy” as saying Sarkozy wanted to cancel his visit after Levy was barred, but Levy persuaded him to go as “their friends in Libya are in a delicate situation because they need to watch out for the Islamists.”