National Front mayor evicts Dreyfus-inspired anti-racism group

(JTA) – Days after his election, a mayor from France’s far-right National Front party has evicted from one of its offices an anti-racism group established in reaction to the Dreyfus trial.

Mayor Steeve Briois, who was elected last month to run the town of Henin-Beaumont, ordered the Human Rights League, or LDH, to clear out of its city-owned workspace last week, the League’s president, Pierre Tartakowsk y, told JTA Wednesday.

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The league — which was established in 1898 to protest the wrongful and racially-motivated conviction for espionage of the French Jewish army captain Alfred Dreyfus — had for years occupied office space provided to it and to other civil society groups by the municipality free of charge, Tartakowsk y said.

“We have made no secret of our opposition to racism, anti-Semitism, the extreme right and National Front itself,” he added. “The party knows that targeting us as a human rights group is a symbol; they want to make people afraid.”

In a statement sent Tuesday Mayor Briois wrote: “Municipalities are not allowed to fund organizations that are politicized and partisan.” The municipality had funded LDH to the tune of $414 per year, according to Le Figaro.

National Front, whose honorary president Jean-Marie Le Pen has multiple convictions for Holocaust denial and incitement to hatred against Jews and other minorities, has mayors in 11 municipalities following its showing in the March 30 local elections. Its previous record was four mayors.

Marine Le Pen, the party’s current leader and Jean Marie Le Pen’s daughter, said on April 4 that educational institutions in cities run by National Front mayors would no longer offer special menus to accommodate pupils’ religious requirements — a practice some French schools have adopted in light of the Jewish and Muslim religious prohibition on eating pork.

Following protests by Jewish and Muslim groups, Le Pen wrote on Twitter that “this is an artificial polemic” because schools generally have two different menus, meaning that if one menu has pork, the other will likely not contain the same meat.

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