PARIS — French far-right presidential hopeful Eric Zemmour comes under fire today for delivering a blistering attack on ex-president Francois Hollande’s migration policy during commemorations marking the November 2015 Paris attacks.
Zemmour, an ultra-nationalist TV pundit who has made no secret of his desire to run for president in April’s election, made the remarks during a visit last night to the Bataclan theater in Paris, where 90 concertgoers were massacred during a series of coordinated attacks across the French capital on November 13, 2015.
The attacks, which left 130 people dead in total, were carried out by a 10-man Islamic State (IS) cell, mostly French and Belgian nationals, some of whom had travelled to Syria to join IS and returned to France to carry out the attacks.
Addressing reporters outside the Bataclan, 63-year-old Zemmour accused France’s then Socialist president Hollande of “criminal” negligence for failing to detect those attackers who slipped into Europe among a huge influx of Syrian migrants.
“He knew there would be terrorists and did not protect the French and took the criminal decision to leave the borders open,” said Zemmour, who is polling strongly on an anti-Islam, anti-immigration platform, despite having yet to formally announce his candidacy.
Hollande, who was called to testify this week at the trial of 20 people charged over the bloodshed, including the sole surviving member of the IS cell behind the attacks, Salah Abdeslam, accuses Zemmour of an “unsubstantiated, obscene and shameful” attack.
“It’s obscene to be in front of the Bataclan and to be talking about a war of civilization,” Hollande tells a Jewish community radio station, Radio J, referring to Zemmour’s characterization of the attacks.
Survivors and relatives of the victims of the Paris attacks also denounce Zemmour, who is Jewish, for playing politics on the anniversary of the massacre.