France’s National Front sacks Muslim convert councillor
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A local councillor for France’s far-right National Front (FN), who made headlines earlier this year after converting to Islam, has been sacked, the party said Tuesday.
Maxence Buttey, an elected member of the municipal council of Noisy-le-Grand, a suburb of Paris, was temporarily suspended from the National Front in October, after he announced his conversion to Islam in a video and urged fellow members of the anti-immigration party to do the same.
The 22-year-old’s suspension was lifted shortly after by the party’s leadership - a decision that left many FN members unhappy, including Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, niece of party leader Marine Le Pen, who called for his punishment to be reinstated.
But following reports in the French media, the FN’s regional chief Jordan Bardella confirmed Tuesday that Buttey has now been dismissed from the party.
Speaking to AFP, Bardella said Buttey was an "unstable boy, timid and with a limited ability to work in groups”.
The video touting Islam was “the straw that broke the camel's back”, he said, adding that “the relationship of trust is lost”.
‘A lot of Islamaphobes’ in the FN
In the video, sent to ten local FN party executives, Buttey had praised the "visionary" virtues of the Koran and urged his colleagues to join them in becoming Muslim.
Bardella said at the time that while “religion is a private choice which I respect” it must not “enter into the sphere of our political activities”.
“The proselytising video which Maxence sent out is unacceptable,” he said.
As an elected representative, Buttey will remain a council member, but has been relieved of his party duties.
He told French daily Le Parisien he had learnt of his sacking by email and that the FN had “never called nor consulted” him about the decision.
There are “a lot of Islamophobes” within the FN, he told the newspaper.
“It’s not the case with (Marine) Le Pen and many in the national leadership who know the difference between private and public life,” he said “but in the regional department, some do not.
“Since the video, I have said nothing, done nothing to promote my religion. They have punished me just because of my religious convictions.”
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