(JTA) — The leader of the French far left accused French Jews of inciting to assault him and promoting “violent sectarianism” that he said doesn’t occur among Muslims.
Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the France Unbowed movement, inveighed against the CRIF federation of Jewish communities and organizations on Sunday during a televised interview with France Inter.
“Sectarianism’s always been a problem for the republican idea,” Melenchon, who has been accused of anti-Semitic rhetoric in the past, said. “Take CRIF. It practices blatant, violent and aggressive sectarianism, namely against me, right? To the point of encouraging people to hit me during a demonstration like the one for Mirelle Knol.”
Mirelle Knol was a Holocaust survivor who was murdered in her Paris apartment last year, allegedly by a Muslim neighbor. CRIF asked Melenchon and the leader of the far-right National Rally party, Marine Le Pen, not to attend a commemorative march for Knol. Both politicians came to the march, where participants booed them until police escorted them away.
CRIF did not call for violence, which did not occur at the event, and condemned the booing.
Melenchon, who continued to call CRIF “bizarre, folkloristic and ridiculous,” did not name any other group as responsible for sectarianism.
Asked whether sectarianism exists also among Muslims, Melenchon said: “No. They have delinquents, same as anywhere, but none claim their law supersedes others.”
Melenchon, who won a fifth of the votes in the 2017 presidential elections, in 2014 called French Jews “an aggressive community preaching to the rest of the nation.”
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