• France's news in English

Far-right candidate quits over grassroots 'racism'

Sophie Inge · 5 Nov 2013, 17:28

Published: 05 Nov 2013 17:28 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Nadia Portheault had planned to stand for the far-right National Front party in upcoming local elections in the southwestern town of St Alban.

However, it was revealed this week she had quit the race with an extraordinary letter to party leader Marine Le Pen, condemning what she called the racism and homophobia of the party's grassroots members.

“I am of Algerian origin and I do not agree with some of the speeches from certain people at the head of the National Front in my department,” wrote Portheault in the October 11th letter, seen by local newspaper La Voix du Midi and excerpted on Monday.

The letter, which was also addressed to the party’s representative in the Haute-Garonne department Serge Laroze, went on to cite examples of racism and homophobia within the party.

While she acknowledged that not all party members expressed such extreme views, she noted “a discrepancy between the words of Marine [Le Pen] and that of the grassroots activists."

“This permanent ambiguity between the shop window and the backroom which specializes in questionable jokes about Arabs and homosexuals was no longer bearable,” she added in the letter.

SEE ALSO: Far-right candidate compares black minister to monkey

The young mother, who, according to the paper, had become a symbol of the National Front's purported new openness, sometimes appearing on television broadcasts on behalf of the party, claims that in fact she was stigmatized because of her Algerian origins. 

“I wanted to be a candidate using my maiden name: Djelida. They strongly advised me to use my married name, even going so far as to tell me that my first name was already almost enough to put me at a disadvantage,” she said.

On one occasion, Portheault notes, an unnamed party member told her: “You and your children are fit for the oven.”

Portheault’s husband Thierry, a fellow party member, told La Voix du Midi that another local party member even boasted about his brother having a swastika tattoo and was “proud to say he is the son of a Nazi.”

Another member said “all Arabs must be killed”, he also claimed.

The accusations have been strongly denied by local National Front official Julien Leonardelli, who told AFP that the party is suing the couple for defamation.

"They will have to face the courts and show proof of everything they're claiming," he said.

Quoted in the paper, a National Front candidate in Toulouse, Serge Laroze said: “In all human groups, there is inevitable misbehavior and we can’t keep checks on everyone.”

“I’ve had them over to my house several times,” he said of the couple. “Suddenly, these very committed activists say that they were deceived, that there is another face to the [National] Front.” 

Story continues below…

Portheault's explosive exit from the local elections comes at a time when the National Front is attempting to consolidate strong poll ratings into a successful nationwide performance in next March's local elections.

The far-right, anti-immigrant party, however, continues to be plagued by the outspoken views of its members and activists.

In October, the party was forced to drop a local election candidate after she compared France's black justice minister Christiane Taubira to a monkey.

Last month another National Front election candidate was suspended after posting a picture of a burning Israeli flag on his Facebook profile.

The party, once universally-regarded as anti-Semitic, racist and xenophobic, has undergone a project of "dédiabolisation" ("un-demonising") since Le Pen took over as leader from her father Jean-Marie in 2011.

Indeed, Le Pen recently went so far as to deny the party was "of the extreme right," and threatened legal action against journalists who labelled them as such.

Sophie Inge (sophie.inge@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France migrant crisis
Migrant crisis won't end with Calais 'Jungle' closure
All Photos: AFP

The Jungle camp may be being cleared but this won't be the end of the migrant crisis in France.

How Paris is rapidly becoming Europe's 'City of Innovation'
Photo: AFP

If you want to start a company then Paris is the place to do it, it seems.

'Jungle' clearance: Migrants begin to leave Calais camp
All photos: AFP

The "Jungle" clearance is underway.

France’s 'Jungle' children arrive in UK
Authorities will start to clear the ‘Jungle’ migrant camp on Monday. Photo: Denis Charlet / AFP file picture

The first group of children from the French "Jungle" migrant camp with no connection to Britain have arrived in the country, the Home Office said Sunday, ahead of the camp's planned demolition.

French FM calls for end to Aleppo 'massacre'
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault says the international community cannot ‘come to a negotiation under the bombs’. Photo: Dominick Reuter / AFP file picture

France's foreign minister urged the international community to "do everything" to end the "massacre" in the Syrian city of Aleppo on Sunday after fighting resumed following a 72-hour truce declared by Damascus ally Russia.

Parisians cheer on protesting French police
French police officers on Saturday demonstrated for the fifth night in a row to protest mounting attacks on officers. Photo: Thomas Samson / AFP

Angry French police have taken to the streets for five nights in a row -- and Parisians have started to cheer them on, reviving scenes last seen following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in 2015.

Scarlett Johansson turns popcorn girl in Paris
US actress Scarlett Johansson greets customers at the Yummy Pop gourmet popcorn shop in the Marais district of Paris. Photo: Benjamin Cremel / AFP

Hollywood superstar Scarlett Johansson swapped the red carpet for a turn behind the counter at her new popcorn shop in Paris on Saturday.

US couple donates huge art collection to Paris
Marlene (centre) and Spencer (right) are donating their collection ‘for the benefit of art lovers’. Photo: Thomas Samson / AFP

A Texan couple who discovered their love for art during a trip to Paris in the 1970s are to donate the multi-million dollar collection they have amassed since to the French capital.

France to clear 'Jungle' migrant camp Monday
Migrants will be bussed from the camp to some 300 temporary accommodation centres around France. Photo: Denis Charlet/ AFP

The "Jungle" migrant camp on France's northern coast will be cleared of its residents on Monday before being demolished, authorities said Friday.

How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
jobs available