France: Right-wing politician advocates kippa ban

Marine Le Pen, of the third-largest French political party, suggests giving ‘headscarf ban’ a Jewish twist

French right-wing politician Marine Le Pen on Friday suggested Jews should be banned from wearing the kippa, or ritual head-covering for Jewish males, in public places.

“Obviously, if the veil is banned, the kipah [should be] banned in public as well,” the French daily Le Monde quoted Le Pen, leader of the National Front, as saying in an interview published on Friday.

Le Pen’s anti-immigrant, anti-Islamist party long has supported a ban on Muslim headscarves, niqabs and burkas. France’s minister of education, Vincent Peillon, said Le Pen “was fanning the flames of fundamentalism” with her statements. “She is the main fundamentalist,” he said.

In response to Le Pen’s suggestion, Conference of European Rabbis head Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt said she was “unworthy” of belonging to the mainstream political arena in France.

Le Pen’s “suggestion of a ban on wearing the kippa in public,” he said, “takes us straight back to the times of state-sponsored anti-Semitism under the Vichy regime.”

Goldschmidt added that any “sane politician” would view Le Pen’s suggestion as “total madness” which is “profoundly insulting to the French ideals of freedom of expression.”

France, a leading proponent of separation of church and state, has banned wearing conspicuous religious symbols in its public primary and secondary schools in what is also known as the “headscarf ban.”

Le Pen heads the nationalist Front National (FN) party, the third-largest in France. She is the youngest daughter of French politician Jean-Marie Le Pen, formerly the party’s president. Her suggestion comes less than two years after France banned the wearing of full Muslim veils in public.

Founded in the 1970s by Jean-Marie Le Pen, the National Front made it to the second round in the presidential elections in 2002, clinching 17 percent of the vote.

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