French National Front complicity in Charlie Hebdo, kosher supermarket murders


French neo-nazi arms dealer Claude Hermant

By Anthony Torres in France:

Police, far right linked to attack on kosher grocery during Charlie Hebdo shooting

9 May 2015

The arrest of an arms dealer linked to the neo-fascist National Front (FN) and the French police points to the possible role of the state and the far right in the terrorist attacks carried out in January in Paris by Amedy Coulibaly on the Hypercacher kosher supermarket, and by the Kouachi brothers on Charlie Hebdo magazine.

In late January, Claude Hermant, his partner, and another man were arrested for having repaired “many” decommissioned weapons from Eastern European countries. According to La Voix du Nord, the local paper near Lille, where Hermant lives, these weapons “were then delivered to criminal gangs, and not only those in Lille.”

Hermant reportedly sold Coulibaly, directly or through third persons, the weapons which he used to carry out the Hypercacher killings, according to the same newspaper: “It’s a very serious lead, which we hope to confirm soon.” The trail points to Belgium, where “Hermant apparently had ties in the context of his broader network. Let us recall that Coulibaly obtained his weapons at Charleroi,” in Belgium, the newspaper said.

La Voix du Nord published some extracts of emails sent between Hermant and police in November 2014. In one email, the policeman writes: “Hi Claude, we discussed things with our superiors. … We are OK with the two subjects you raised with us (weapons, Charleroi).”

These emails strongly suggest that Hermant could have received the support of intelligence services or of police to deliver weapons to Coulibaly or other Islamists. The newspaper continues, “Suppose that you found such messages (a dozen in all) that a policeman sent to Hermant, on November 21, 2014, at 8:47 a.m. Suppose that a close associate of the accused certified, ‘Claude Hermant has covered his bases’.”

Police officials were thus aware that Hermant was trafficking weapons and who he was selling them to. This again raises, very directly, the question of the role of the state in the deadly attacks of January 2015 in Paris.

It is already documented that Coulibaly and the Kouachi brothers were known to the intelligence services and to police. The Kouachi brothers were under intelligence surveillance from November 2011 to June 2014; they were also placed on British and US surveillance lists. From 2011 to 2013, one of the brothers repeatedly traveled to Islamist training camps in Yemen.

As for Coulibaly, he was convicted for having plotted the jailbreak of an Islamist activist. He met Cherif Kouachi in prison.

The French state is complicit in the arming of the Islamist networks that are active in this social layer in France, and which Paris is using as part of its proxy war to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In an interview with Le Monde, President François Hollande even insisted that France had been arming Syrian Islamist forces as far back as the spring of 2013. Such forces, when deployed in Syria, can rely on training and operational assistance from French soldiers and CIA agents.

These Islamist groups are used to foment terrorist attacks and wage a neo-colonial war aimed at installing a pro-imperialist regime in Syria.

The reports of Hermant’s weapons-dealing activities raise the most serious questions: did sections of the state with ties to the far right encourage or at least tolerate the preparation of the January attacks for political reasons? Hollande exploited the attacks to shift the political atmosphere, place 10,000 soldiers in the streets, accelerate attacks on democratic rights and promote the FN as indispensable to mainstream politics. After the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and Hypercacher, Hollande invited FN leader Marine Le Pen to the Elysée presidential palace.

Hermant’s comments suggest that he believed he was acting on behalf of the state. The weapons trafficker and police informant insists that he “will not be the next Marc Fievet,” referring to a former customs inspector tasked with infiltrating organized crime circles, but arrested by Canadian authorities and abandoned by his superiors.

Hermant’s ties with the police point to the growing integration of the FN in the security forces, who emerged politically strengthened from the attacks carried out by the Kouachi brothers and Coulibaly. Since then, the Socialist Party (PS) government has voted new intelligence law and boosted the defense budget, while the FN is continuing its normalization in mainstream bourgeois politics.

These events constitute a warning to the working class. A reactionary milieu tied to the security services, involving both far-right operatives and Islamist terrorists, is being brought forward as shock troops to attack the working class.

Hermant was trained as a paratrooper in the 1980s and reportedly went on to fight in Croatia. In the 1990s, he joined the FN’s security service, the Department of Protection and Security (DPS), a paramilitary group modeled on the special forces. It was led by Bernard Courcelle, the former captain of a parachute regiment and informer for military intelligence. The DPS was reportedly financed by weapons sales, according to Libération, including to Chechen forces through Croatia.

The gun dealer was thus connected to paramilitary organizations composed of former soldiers carrying out missions involving critical interests of the French state, both at home and internationally.

Hermant reportedly infiltrated activist groups such as SOS-Racism, and led punitive actions in impoverished French suburbs. He left for Congo-Brazzaville in 1999, tasked with a mission by the Congolese government of President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who is closely tied to French interests. Hermant was incarcerated there before being released by a presidential pardon and leaving the DPS.

He led the Flemish House at Lambersart, a far-right association that was shut down in 2012. He reportedly now works in a restaurant in the Lille metropolitan area.

This is a 2012 video from Lille in France about that ‘Flemish House’ (Maison Flamande) in Lambersart. The video says the Maison Flamande will not close down, but change its name.

Marine Le Pen ‘reincarnation of Hitler’, says her party colleague


This video from France is about French National Front leader Marine Le Pen and German ex-officer of Hitler’s SS and neo-nazi leader Franz Schönhuber, a political ally and personal friend of the Le Pen family.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Rise of the French far right: Front National party could make sweeping gains at this month’s local elections

However, revelations about the bizarre candidates being fielded mean it may not do quite as well as its 30 per cent support nationwide may suggest

John Lichfield, Paris

Sunday 01 March 2015 …

One FN candidate on Aveyron in south-central France had called on his Facebook page for the “destruction of the Jews once and for all”. Another candidate in Ardèche in the Rhône valley had posted a swastika and the message: “Marine, you are the reincarnation of Hitler. You are going to clean up France.”

Another FN candidate in Puy-de-Dôme in the centre of France was dropped after it emerged that he had had been convicted last year of trying to run over a pedestrian while shouting racist insults. …

There are other telling signs that the FN remains rooted in shallow soil. One far-right candidate in Orne, in Normandy, was imprisoned last month for driving without a licence. He is permitted, under the rules, to remain on the ballot paper.

Marion Maréchal-Le Pen: the young face of France’s far right. Even more rightwing and socially conservative than her aunt Marine, Maréchal-Le Pen’s ferocity has shocked rivals and won her legions of admirers: here.

Madonna warns against French neo-fascism


This video says about itself:

Madonna Defends Use of Swastika on Marine Le Pen‘s Forehead: Front National Party Threatens Suit

27 July 2012

American pop singer Madonna is defending her use of an image depicting French far-right politician Marine Le Pen with a swastika superimposed on her forehead after Le Pen‘s party threatened legal action. Madonna said the image was meant to highlight intolerance toward immigrants and religious minorities and she refused to remove it from a video played during her live performances.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Madonna: France feels like Nazi Germany

6 hours ago by Lewis Smith

Madonna has renewed hostilities with France’s far-right National Front (FN) party in outspoken comments in which she lambasts France and the rest of Europe for intolerance.

The singer, fresh from her tumble at the Brit Awards, said in a radio interview that racial intolerance and other forms of discrimination had risen to “scary” levels.

Three years ago, she was drawn into a row with the FN leader Marine Le Pen, whom she portrayed as having a swastika on her forehead in a concert video, but said the level of intolerance today is even worse than in 2012.

“It’s happening all over Europe but particularly in France. The level of intolerance is so enormous, it’s scary. We’re living in crazy times. It feels like Nazi Germany.

France was a country that embraced everyone and encouraged freedom in every way, shape or form – artistic expression of freedom.

Now that has completely gone. It used to accept people of colour, and was a place artists escaped to, whether they were Josephine Baker or Charlie Parker.”

Madonna to Europe 1 radio

National Front racist Le Pen welcome, Holocaust survivor unwelcome at Oxford Union


This video from England says about itself:

“She’s not welcome”: Oxford Union Marine Le Pen protest

6 February 2015

VERSA report from the Marine Le Pen protest outside the Oxford Union. Interviews with key protesters, including the Joint National Secretary of Unite Against Fascism.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

Holocaust survivor barred as Le Pen speaks at SU

Saturday 7th February 2015

A HOLOCAUST survivor was barred from an Oxford University Students Union debate in which French fascist Marine Le Pen was allowed to exercise her “freedom of speech” on Thursday night.

Just a child when the nazis occupied France in 1940, Colette Levy, from France, was sent into hiding by her parents, who were later killed in the Holocaust.

Prior to the debate Ms Levy addressed hundreds of students and other anti-fascists demonstrating against French National Front leader Ms Le Pen’s presence at the union debating society.

“I am here because of my history,” she told the crowd.

“My father was killed in a concentration camp, most likely Auschwitz and we know Marine Le Pen represents a fascist movement. It’s shameful.”

Ms Levy “was effectively denied the benefit of freedom of speech that was given to Le Pen,” said Unite Against Fascism (UAF) joint secretary Weyman Bennett.

“A number of demonstrators got into the meeting and disrupted it but were evicted by police. They too were denied the benefit of freedom of speech.”

Ms Le Pen was forced to slink into the building through a rear door as around 400 protesters vociferously made their feelings known.

Mr Bennett said that the National Front had been able to rise in France because the party had been given a platform to spread its racism and fascism.

“In Britain, from the days of Cable Street in the 1930s, anti-fascists have had a tradition of No Platform for fascists,” he added.

By Chris Marsden in Britain:

French National Front leader Marine Le Pen addresses Oxford Union

7 February 2015

The Oxford Union (OU) has become the latest major institution to take its place in the international campaign to legitimise the French neo-fascist party, the National Front (FN).

Party leader Marine Le Pen addressed the OU, Oxford University’s independent debating society, Thursday, despite widespread opposition. The aim of the OU in inviting her to England was to lend academic prestige to Le Pen’s claim to have shed the fascistic legacy of her father’s party—what she calls its “de-demonisation.”

Jean Marie Le Pen is still the party’s “honorary chairman.”

See also here.

Protests against French National Front fuehrer at Oxford University


A demonstrator outside the Oxford Union protests against the appearance of Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s Front National. Photograph: Hannah Mckay/EPA

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Marine Le Pen’s Oxford university speech delayed by protesters

Appearance by leader of France’s far-right Front National party sparks protests by students chanting anti-fascist slogans

Jon Henley and Areeb Ullah

Thursday 5 February 2015 20.36 GMT

A crowd of some 300 jeering, banner-waving demonstrators delayed a speech by Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right Front National, by more than an hour at the Oxford Union.

Police and security guards were forced to close the doors to the university’s prestigious debating society after a dozen balaclava-wearing anti-fascist protesters, chanting “Le Pen, never again”, “No pasarán” and “Oxford Union, shame on you,” came close to scaling the walls from the street outside.

“This isn’t about freedom of speech – she has the right to express her views; no one is trying to silence her,” said Barnaby Raine, a second-year history and politics student and one of the organisers of the otherwise peaceful protest.

This video from England today is called Chants against Le Pen in Oxford.

“But that doesn’t mean we have to invite her here to give an hour-long talk and bring her bigoted, nasty, divisive politics into our community. Fascism has only been beaten when good people mobilise against it. Never by inviting it to dinner.”

Le Pen took over from her father, Jean-Marie, as leader of the Front National in 2011 and has since made strenuous efforts to pilot the nationalist, anti-immigrant and once openly racist party into the mainstream of French politics.

Last year’s European elections saw it finish top of a national poll for the first time in its 40-year history and polls predict Le Pen will comfortably make it through to the second round run-off in presidential elections due in 2017.

This video is called Protestors chanting against Le Pen.

Following last month’s terrorist attacks in Paris in which three Islamist gunmen shot dead 17 people, 12 of them in and outside the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, Le Pen demanded that France regain control of its borders, mount surveillance operations in radical mosques, review its relations with foreign states that sponsor terrorism, and hold a referendum on the death penalty. …

John Tanner, an Oxford councillor, said outside the Union building that the society’s invitation to speak was “a stunt. The people of Oxford don’t want this extreme right-wing racist from France given a platform here.” …

This video is called Student speaks against Le Pen speech.

But Annie Teriba, a history and politics student, said she was disgusted that the Union’s invitation meant Le Pen could “now go back to France and say she has been invited to speak at Oxford university. That is the kind of legitimacy that is allowing her and her abhorrent party to become acceptable.”

This video is called Le Pen being sped away in a police van.

France, from Vichy regime to Le Pen dictatorship?


This video says about itself:

Madonna Defends Use of Swastika on Marine Le Pen’s Forehead: Front National Party Threatens Suit

27 July 2012

American pop singer Madonna is defending her use of an image depicting French far-right politician Marine Le Pen with a swastika superimposed on her forehead after Le Pen’s party threatened legal action. Madonna said the image was meant to highlight intolerance toward immigrants and religious minorities and she refused to remove it from a video played during her live performances.

By Joseph Kishore and Alex Lantier:

Charlie Hebdo and the specter of Vichy: From Laval to Hollande

16 January 2015

The past week’s events in France—the systematic promotion of racist propaganda by the state, President François Hollande’s invitation to fascistic National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen to the Elysée Palace, and the resurgence of the FN in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo—have a troubling resonance with an earlier era of French history: the period of the Vichy regime.

In June 1940, less than two months after it invaded France, Nazi Germany defeated the French military forces and successfully entered an undefended Paris. On June 22, France and Germany signed an armistice and divided the country in two between the Nazi-occupied north and west, centered in Paris, and a formally unoccupied but collaborationist regime in the south, centered in Vichy.

The very rapid capitulation of the representatives of French business and the military to the Nazi onslaught was the outcome of a decision—mirroring one made 70 years earlier during the Franco-Prussian War—that the occupation of France was the best means of dealing with social opposition at home. Both the Nazi occupiers and their French collaborators carried out a brutal war against the working class. In addition to a vicious campaign that particularly targeted socialist opponents of social reaction and imperialist war, the Vichy regime participated fully in the racist and anti-Semitic propaganda of the German fascists, and helped deport tens of thousands of Jews to concentration camps.

The two principal figures in the Vichy Regime were Marshal Philippe Pétain, the “chief of state,” and Pierre Laval, who served first as vice president of the Council of Ministers, and later as head of government. Pétain embodied the reactionary, anti-Republican traditions of the French ruling class and military. Hailed for leading French troops at the battle of Verdun and crushing anti-war mutinies during World War I, he was an ardent anti-Semite, tied to the regime of Spain’s fascist dictator Francisco Franco.

Laval personified the corruption of the French “left,” a man whose political career easily transitioned from the Socialist Party to collaboration with the Nazis. Laval joined the 1920s “Cartel of the Left” government, before emerging in conservative governments during the Great Depression of the 1930s. He left parliament and shifted far to the right amidst an upsurge of working-class struggle, eventually positioning himself as a chief fascist collaborator. It was noted at the time that Laval’s name was spelled the same backwards and forwards—a suitable expression of his spineless opportunism.

Following the war, Laval was put on trial and shot. Pétain was sentenced to death, but the sentence was suspended due to his old age. As a matter of fact, only a small number of the Nazi collaborators were held to account for their role in the Vichy government, for the simple reason that so much of the French political apparatus was implicated.

For the past 35 years, what is erroneously called the French left has undergone a long downward spiral, culminating in the current President François Hollande and his prime minister, Manuel Valls, a man known above all for his mass deportation campaign against the Roma. For his right-wing policies, Hollande has justly become the most hated president in post-war French history. Support for Hollande plunged to 12 percent in the polls last November—lower even than the current 16 percent approval rating in France for the Al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

While there are still many unanswered questions about the terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdo, it is absolutely clear that the French government is determined to utilize the atrocity to shift French politics even further to the right, implementing far-reaching attacks on democratic rights while ensuring that the French ruling class has a stake in the imperialist re-division of the world.

To create the political framework for this shift, the most reactionary social and political elements are again being mobilized—though, at least for the time being, the attack on Muslims has replaced the anti-Semitic propaganda of Vichy. Charlie Hebdo is being used as a tool in this project. In particular, the cartoons that the magazine has published, and that it published yet again in a state-financed issue released on Wednesday, are part of the deliberate whipping up of anti-Muslim racism.

The most direct political beneficiary is the fascistic National Front (FN) and Marine Le Pen, who was invited by Hollande to the Elysée Palace last week under the banner of “national unity.” Le Pen’s father and the founder of the FN, Jean-Marie Le Pen, has repeatedly hailed the Nazi occupation of France during World War II, calling the Holocaust a mere “detail” of history.

Changing what needs to be changed, the union of Hollande and Le Pen reproduces that of Laval and Pétain. More than political opportunism is involved in this new alliance. The essential character of the French ruling class is re-emerging. In a period of deepening political crisis, it is recreating in new forms all the filthy practices in which it engaged when it stood side-by-side with Nazi Germany. The stench of Vichy hangs over the Elysée Palace.

FREE SPEECH PARADOX? “The French authorities are moving aggressively to rein in speech supporting terrorism, employing a new law to mete out tough prison sentences in a crackdown that is stoking a free-speech debate after last week’s attacks in Paris.” [NYT]

80% of Anti-Muslim Attacks in France Against Women, Says Report: here.