Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Jean-Luc Mélenchon Blames the “Chechen Community” for Murder of Teacher in France

Last Friday, teacher Samuel Paty was murdered by an 18-year-old of Chechen descent. The government of Emmanuel Macron is using this horrific crime to attack all Muslims. Now he is getting support from the left-wing politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

Philippe Alcoy

October 22, 2020
Facebook Twitter Share
Image: Left-wing politician and leader of La France Insoumise, Jean-Luc Mélenchon (PHILIPPE HUGUEN / AFP)

In the wake of the terrible murder last Friday of the teacher Samuel Paty by an 18-year-old Chechen youth in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, the government and the forces of reaction in France seized on this “opportunity” to manipulate public opinion and increase the climate of Islamophobia and repression in France. The machine of confusion and stigmatization set to work immediately. The worst example of this is undoubtedly the French Minister of Interior, Gérald Darmanin, who declared Monday on a broadcast of Europe 1 that operations have been launched against “dozens of individuals” who do not have a “link, necessarily, with the investigation, but to whom we want to send a clear message” — a style of rhetoric befitting a mafioso.

But in this reactionary choir of several voices we had a surprise guest: Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of La France Insoumise (“France Unbowed,” LFI). Since last Friday, Mélenchon has launched into a series of statements casting a cloud of stigmatization over the Chechen community. “Faced with Islamist terrorism, it is necessary to respond very precisely. There is a very clear problem with the Chechen community in France. Chechens who are active in political Islam on social media must be found and expelled,” Mélenchon said on French news site LCI.

During the rally in homage to the assassinated teacher, Mélenchon made a point of expressing this xenophobic message towards Chechens, mixing a denunciation of perpetrators of terrorist crimes with an interrogation of the “Chechen community”:

We are dealing with madmen and assassins who commit acts of Islamist terrorism which sully their religion and rot our lives (…) And we must also then question what is happening with Chechens in France, for we have welcomed [into France] Chechens who were partisans of a religious civil war. [And] this is the second time we have dealt with individuals linked to this community. The first time they sent 150 [people] to terrorize a city; the second time, one cuts off the head of a teacher (…) we have to wonder what they are doing.

These speeches hammer against the entire Chechen community and not against individuals who would commit acts of terror or crimes of various degrees of gravity. And these speeches of Mélenchon conflate innocents with criminals and turn every Chechen into a “suspected” perpetrator of terrorism. These speeches are in no way different from the stigmatization carried out on a daily basis by the government and the journalists and organizations of the far Right.

In these terrible situations, the intrinsic opportunism of the leader of La France Insoumise leads him to use the worst xenophobic rhetoric, hoping to capture a section of the electorate that is more chauvinistic and imbued with Islamophobic prejudices. Yet it is not by chance that Mélenchon attacks Chechens in particular. It is known that this ex-senator of the Socialist Party (PS) heaps praise on the foreign policy of the Russian state. In this sense, Mélenchon’s furious discourse against Chechen people is not entirely surprising.

That said, these statements by Mélenchon readily fuel the turn to the right in this situation, the government offensive against Muslims and the xenophobic and reactionary rhetoric of the currents of the extreme Right. Certain militants or sympathizers of La France Insoumise find themselves attempting to defend their principal leader by taking up the same prejudiced arguments. But this is the inevitable result of the chauvinistic republicanism that Mélenchon and La France Insoumise have exhibited since the beginning. Their “social-nationalism” is completely adapted to French imperialist republicanism, inexorably leading to the reinforcement of nationalist prejudices.

However, numerous militants and sympathizers of La France Insoumise have expressed their rejection of Mélenchon’s statements. Many have taken to social media to denounce these statements as worthy only of Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far right National Rally (FR, formerly the National Front or FN). Indeed, at a moment when the forces of reaction are attempting to exploit this tragedy to strengthen themselves against workers and all the oppressed, workers, youth, and the popular classes need another perspective. We must condemn the murder of Samuel Paty and we stand in solidarity with his relatives, but at the same time we must reject any racist cooptation. We must reject any and all attempts to make Muslims responsible for this repulsive crime. For this reason, we condemn these statements by the leader of La France Insoumise which stigmatize all Chechens, particularly since Mélenchon has an important influence on the exploited and oppressed.

First published on October 19 in French in Révolution Permanente

Translation: X.A.

Facebook Twitter Share

Philippe Alcoy

Philippe is an editor of Révolution Permanente, our sister site in France.

Twitter

Europe

Striking airline workers in uniforms and yellow vests at Munich’s airport on July 27.

Lufthansa Strike in Germany Brings Air Traffic to a Standstill

A one-day warning strike at German airports has demonstrated the power of the workers. Now it’s time to extend the struggle.

Marco Helmbrecht

July 28, 2022
Several Lufthansa airplanes on the tarmac in Munich, Germany in March 2020.

Lufthansa Workers Strike over Wages

Today, ground workers for the German airline Lufthansa are striking for wage increases and better working conditions. On Tuesday, a similar strike took place at the airport in Lyon, France.

The Mediterranean Sea Hits 86ºF — 10ºF Higher than Expected

Massive evaporation, torrential rains, prolonged extreme humid heat, and dying marine life — these are among the consequences of this summer’s heat wave as the waters of the Mediterranean Sea reach record levels.

Pedro Vantas

July 27, 2022
A firefighter in Gironde, France, stands in front of a raging wildfire.

Climate Crisis in Europe: Here We Tread upon a Spark

Europe has been struck with a deadly heatwave, with temperatures exceeding 40°C (104°F). We need a radical ecological transition out of this catastrophe.

Antoine Ramboz

July 22, 2022

MOST RECENT

Dictating Rules from Below: The Re-Emergence of Workers’ Councils in Iran

Gianni Del Panta interviews Ida Nikou, a doctoral candidate in sociology at Stony Brook State University in New York. Her dissertation focuses on the labor movement in Iran and how the neoliberal turn has impacted workers' rights and living conditions.

Gianni Del Panta

August 12, 2022

Starbucks Fires Joselyn Chuquillanqui in Retaliation for Union Organizing

Joselyn Chuquillanqui was fired after working at Starbucks for almost 7 years. She is just one of over 70 workers fired for organizing around the country as the company ramps up its union busting.

Luigi Morris

August 12, 2022

British Postal Workers Reject Below-Inflation Contract Offer and Announce Upcoming Strike

The union representing postal workers in Britain has announced four days of strikes in the coming weeks — the first such labor action since 2009.

Illustration of a bald eagle on the left and yellow dragon on the right, face-to-face, with the flags of the U.S., R.O.C., and P.R.C. in the background

China and the U.S.: War Games in a Tense World

The visit to Taiwan by Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, has led to a new escalation in tensions between the United States and China. Beijing responded by launching missiles right under Taiwan’s nose — war games on the knife-edge.

Esteban Mercatante

August 10, 2022