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Mabrouk Lebnen! We keep exporting the best of the best, don’t we?
After her expected ascension to the second round of the French presidential elections, Marine Le Pen resigned her position as president of the party she inherited from the father, in order to airbrush herself as a candidate who’s open to everyone and is devoid of political attire.
I guess it’s a bit hard to try and label yourself as an outsider when you’ve inherited an entire party from your father. That’s like Taymour Jumblat or Sami Gemayel in Lebanon going like: “oh, we’re new to this game. We are not politicians,” while both of them take up the mantel of a party founded by their grandparents.
But I digress.
In her attempt to gain as many votes as possible in the second round, Marine Le Pen is trying to further distance herself from the party that led to her rise, which is why Lebanese-French Jean-François Jalkh has been appointed interim chairperson, until – I would guess – Le Pen learns of the result of the second round and, in the case she’s not elected, resumes her position.
In summary, this is the Lebanese-French man who is now the head of the far-right populist French party whose rhetoric is fueled by anti-semitisim, racism and hate:
Jean-Francois Jalkh is a 59 year old French man of Lebanese origins who was born in 1957 at Tournan-en-Brie, in the Ile-De-France region. He has been a member of the party since 1974, and wasn’t even 18 years old when he enlisted.
Within 7 years of his enrollment, Jean-Francois Jalkh rose up the ranks of the Front National until he became a member of the party’s central committee, with further promotions to other more important committees later on. He became a deputy of his region in 2005.
Jalkh was a candidate for the 2012 French parliamentary elections but did not qualify to the second round with him ranking third behind the Republican and the Socialist candidates (much like his party’s head Marine Le Pen in the 2012 elections as well). However, that did not deter him from further rising up the echelons of the Front National: a few months after he failed to win a parliamentary seat, he became the vice president of the Front National and was tasked to run all electoral purposes.
His most important position came about two years later when in the European Parliament elections of 2014, Jalkh was voted as a European Parliament Member with his list getting about 30% of the votes in his region.
His career has not been devoid of scandals. Did you expect otherwise?
While he’s not a French household figure, he was involved in a financial scandal investigation about the election funding of Le Pen’s party, in which investigators were suspicious of fraudulent activity involving public money going into the party’s campaigns.
Jalkh was also appointed by Jean-Marie Le Pen, Marine’s father, as his advisor while the latter was a member of the European Parliament, even though Jalkh had already been a secretary of the Front National. This led to Le Pen being forced to pay back 300,000 euros in retribution.
In November 2016, his parliamentary immunity was revoked after an anti-discrimination group filed a suit against Jalkh for allowing publications by the Front National which call for access to public social registries, something which was proposed by his party for municipal elections in their program.
Another scandal involving Jalkh was his borderline Holocaust-denying attitude with him questioning the use of certain types of gas in the mass extermination that were conducted. Not at all surprising given his history’s party, be it with his founder or with Marine Le Pen’s recent attempts at absolving the French-Vichi government of its Nazi-fuled past.
I can’t comment on whether this man is an appropriate lead of the Front National or not. For starters, he sure goes hand in hand in what the party represents, but then again what the party represents is in complete contradiction of any decent values as well as with the foundation of the French Republic.
I sure hope, however, that French-Lebanese, 60% of whom voted for the Republican Francois Fillon in the first round, and are on the fence regarding their choice for the second round do not see this as a sign that the Front National will be nicer to French of Lebanese origins than everyone else.
Marine Le Pen will take away your dual nationality. She will stop your family and friends from being able to easily visit. She will create an environment in which you are a second-rate French citizen by virtue of you not being a pureblood, and she has used your country as a prop during her visit for as big of a publicity stunt as she could muster with her veil and with the characterization of Lebanese Christians as oppressed and persecuted.
Make the right choice. That choice is not on the far side of right.