Martine Aubry, the chair of the French Socialist Party and a leading contender for the party’s presidential nomination, went on the offensive over the weekend against what her camp and the mainstream French press have described as “rumors” concerning her husband’s closeness to Islamist circles. Aubry also took the opportunity to hit out at longstanding rumors regarding a drinking problem, as well as supposed rumors about her sexual orientation and state of health. But it is clear that the focus of the highly-publicized offensive were not the latter rumors, but rather what are in fact detailed reports concerning the defense of Islamist causes by Aubry’s husband, the lawyer Jean-Louis Brochen.
An article published on Friday evening on the website of the French daily Le Parisien ascribes the alleged rumor-mongering to internet sites that are close to Marine Le Pen’s National Front or to “ultra-Zionist groups.” “For some time now,” the paper writes,
internet sites suspected of being close to the National Front or to ultra-Zionist splinter groups have been conducting a fierce campaign of denigration on the web, accusing the Socialist’s husband of being an “Islamist” lawyer, a “lawyer for the bearded guys [barbus – a colloquial allusion to Islamists],” or a “halal lawyer.”
In a similar vein — although without the allusion to “ultra-Zionists” — the website of the weekly Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD) wrote already on June 28 of “attacks” on Brochen’s professional activities emanating from “various sites that are close to the Far Right.” The JDD returned to the theme in a front page story this weekend, adding that Aubry and her camp suspect members of Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidential majority of spreading some or all of the “rumors.”
As an example of the attacks from websites “close to the Far Right,” the JDD links a nearly year-old post on the Observatoire de l’islamisation or “Islamization Monitor” blog. Much of the post in question, however, consists of a lengthy citation from Caroline Fourest’s 2005 book La tentation obscurantiste [The Obscurantist Temptation]. Far from being “close to” the National Front or the “Far Right,” Fourest is in fact a left-wing feminist critic of Islamic fundamentalism whose latest book is a would-be exposé of Marine Le Pen. The book (which is co-authored by Fiammetta Venner) has been described by France Inter radio as a “combat manual” for fighting against the National Front. Fourest and her anti-Le Pen “combat” were recently the subject of a glowing profile in the pages of none other than the JDD.
The Fourest passage cited by the Observatoire de l’islamisation concerns Brochen’s representation of a Roubaix-based “study center” named “Encounter and Dialogue” [Rencontre et dialogue]. As Fourest explains, the essential purpose of the center is to “host lectures in order to bring the youth of Roubaix into contact with [Islamic] fundamentalist preachers, such as Tariq Ramadan and Hassan Iquioussen.” To the great displeasure of secular North African immigrants,” Fourest continues:
who no longer want to put up with having to bear the consequences of this propaganda. One of them, Messaoud Bourra, no longer sees his children because his wife considers that he is not a “sufficiently good Muslim.” He has been fighting against the influence of Islamists in his town and he played a leading role in a campaign opposing Encounter and Dialogue’s invitation of Hassan Iquioussen. The preacher [Iquioussen] describes Jews as “tops in felony.” … In a local newspaper, Messaoud Bourras condemned the municipal government’s support for “an association that thus indulges in negationism.” As a consequence, he is today being sued by Encounter and Dialogue and their lawyer, Jean-Louis Brochen.
As Joachim Véliocas, the author of the Observatoire de l’islamisation blog, has pointed out in a post published Monday, it was in fact Caroline Fourest who in La tentation obscurantiste described Brochen as the “lawyer of the Islamists.” “Lawyer of the Islamists for many years now,” the full citation reads, “Brochen was the official in charge of cultural affairs in the municipal government of Lille when Martine Aubry succeeded Pierre Mauroy [as the city’s mayor]. Brochen is Aubry’s husband.”
In addition to Brochen’s representation of Encounter and Dialogue, Fourest also cites his defense in 1994 of female students who had been expelled from a local high school for wearing the Islamic headscarf and his representation of “one of the accused members of the Roubaix Gang.” The Roubaix Gang was a criminal-Islamist gang, several of whose members had fought with mujahideen forces during the Bosnian civil war.
In another post published Monday, Joachim Véliocas accuses Martine Aubry herself of maintaining “very cordial relations” with the Union of Islamic Organizations of France (UIOF). Véliocas describes the association as being affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. This analysis is shared by Fiammetta Venner, a close collaborator of Caroline Fourest. In 2005, Venner published a book on the subject.
As the JDD notes, already in January 2009, Fadela Amara accused Aubry of “getting mixed up with Islamists” [fricoter avec les Islamistes]. Amara is an urban activist of Algerian origins who in 2007 was named by Nicolas Sarkozy to a sub-ministerial post in the French government.
According to Joachim Véliocas, Aubry’s husband, Jean-Louis Brochen, has also defended the rap group Sniper, which made a name for itself by glorifying urban violence. The title of Sniper’s newest release, “Fadela,” refers to Fadela Amara. In the song, the group accuses persons of immigrant background who have succeeded in French society of “forgetting their race” and being “traitors.” The lyrics also accuse the supposed immigrant social-climbers of drinking “Beaujolais and [having] pig on the plate.”