Joris Hébrard, a Rassemblement National deputy and former mayor of the town of Le Pontet, a small town in Provence, caused outrage after it was revealed on social media that he had inaugurated a large Turkish-influenced mosque in his town. The party imposed a reprimand on him and he eventually resigned from his parliamentary post.
On March 17th, videos and photos showed him smiling, cutting the ribbon of an imposing building together with the local Muslim authorities and the Turkish consul. This was not just another public obligation, but a conscious strategy: “France is changing its face, Reconquête [Zemmour’s party] will have to accept it,” he declared provocatively on the sidelines of the inauguration.
The Fatih Mosque—or ‘the Conqueror’—is named after the man who took Constantinople from the Christians and belongs to the Franco-Turkish Cultural Association of Avignon. It is destined to become the largest in the Vaucluse department, which has a very large Muslim community.
The revelation of the facts was made possible in particular by the whistleblower Damien Rieu, formerly close to the Rassemblement National and now in the service of Éric Zemmour. Damien Rieu revealed that the treasurers in charge of the mosque had been convicted of crimes in the past, but also that the mosque veiled little girls. Finally, he recalled that given its size, its dome, and its minaret, it fell into the category of the ‘cathedral mosques’ that are supposed to be strongly denounced by the Rassemblement National because they disfigure the traditional French landscape.
The deputy’s entourage sought to minimize the facts, maintaining that there was no ‘ideological’ dimension to this inauguration. “The Turkish community is very well established, very present locally” and the RN deputy “knows it well,” they justified. Moreover, his team assured, since Joris Hébrard was mayor of Le Pontet until 2022, the responsibility for the sale of the land and the building permit lies with the previous mayor, representing UMP-LR.
As soon as the scandal was revealed, the leadership of the Rassemblement National reacted vigorously. Marine Le Pen said she had not been informed of the inauguration.
“It is a personal initiative that I disapprove of, very clearly,” said Marine Le Pen on Wednesday, March 22nd at a press conference on the issue. She then raised the possibility of a sanction by the party.
The new president of the Rassemblement national Jordan Bardella added his voice to that of Marine Le Pen and summoned the offending MP before the party’s executive board.
“[T]he Islamist influence of Turkey in Europe must be firmly combated,” he explained to the weekly Valeurs Actuelles.
The board’s sentence fell and Joris Hébrard received a reprimand. This decision certainly pushed him to give up his mandate as a deputy, even if Marine Le Pen assures that there was “no connection” and that Joris Hébrard simply wishes to take advantage of the reintegration of non-vaccinated carers in the health system to reopen his physiotherapist’s practice in the south.
His substitute gets his seat in the National Assembly.