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When a 'far right' French town paid homage to Donald Trump

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When a 'far right' French town paid homage to Donald Trump
Robert Ménard, the far right mayor of Béziers. Photo: AFP
17:12 CET+01:00
The town of Béziers and its far right mayor held what was effectively an homage to Donald Trump this week, writes Jonathan Miller, who was their to get the flavour of the atmosphere and the canapés.

Béziers has a bowling alley, a Harley Davidson dealer, even a diner serving cheeseburgers, but the Americanisation of this southern French city seemed complete this week as controversial mayor Robert Ménard hosted what was, in effect, a Donald Trump rally.

Ménard has been a thorn in the side of the French establishment ever since he was elected three years ago with the support of the National Front, although he is not himself a member of Marine Le Pen’s nationalistic, anti-immigrant party. 

At last count, there were more than two dozen complaints against Ménard being investigated by the French authorities and after Monday night's homage to Trump, there could well be another.

Monday night’s event was held in the splendour of the Hotel du Lac in central Béziers, a magnificent hotel particulier once owned by one of the richest of the Languedoc wine dynasties and now the venue for official receptions in this southern French city of 75,000.

The guest of honour was Frank Mitchell, a Tennessee-based Christian historian whose theory is that Donald Trump will restore the American republic from the decadence, corruption, atheism, multiculturalism and hedonism produced by globalisation, which is itself a Marxist project.

Mitchell, it is fair to say, is not taken seriously by many academic historians, but in an epoch ruled by sentiment, not facts, he is nevertheless taken quite seriously by many on the religious right in America.

Mr Mitchell does not speak French but his prepared remarks, replete with biblical references and claims of a forthcoming Christian millennium, were translated and a condensed version of his new book on Trump was on sale in the foyer. 

The star of the evening, however, was  an American woman, Rosine  Ghawji, who identified herself as founder and president of Working Mothers for Donald Trump and also the conductor of the Donald Trump En Français Facebook group, for which she seems eminently qualified, because her French was excellent and her passion for President Trump evident.

Saying she has known Trump for 28 years, she described the numerous financial and sexual allegations against him as media-concocted calumnies, saying he was a man of absolute integrity who works from 5 in the morning until midnight and is “afraid of nothing.”

Ménard at her side, her discourse was repeatedly interrupted by applause.

Ménard, who evidently sees Trump as an inspiration for his own political ambitions, praised the American “representatives” of Trump and the American president himself, for speaking plainly.

“We need men who speak with the words that are our own,” he said.  He didn’t expect Trump to defend the interests of France, but to defend American interests. “And that’s what France needs, too - someone to defend France. "

(Rosine Ghawji, Frank Mitchell and Mayor of Beziers Robert Menard. Jonathan Miller)

At the last count, Ménard has had more than two dozen complaints levelled against him for such offenses as insulting immigrants in the Béziers municipal newspaper, opening the Béziers town hall to a religious-themed display during Christmas, and supposedly taking an illegal census to count immigrant children in Béziers public schools.

He was also blasted for putting up "sick" anti-migrant posters with the title "they are coming" and is facing trial for saying the number of Muslim pupils in the town's school was "a problem".

It will not be surprising if there is soon another complaint against him, for hosting an event that some might construe as a naked attack on laïcité, the French secular doctrine. 

Others will complain that Ménard put the hospitality of the city of Béziers at the disposal of Trump’s representatives on the very day that the French government was condemning the American president for his tough new immigration rules.

None of this seemed to bother the guests, especially as the canapés were excellent (this is, after all, France).

Jonathan Miller is the author of the book: France, a nation on the edge of a nervous breakdown

You can follow him on Twitter here.

 

 

 

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