A POLITICAL row is brewing as France mourns the deaths of 12 people murdered in Wednesday’s gun attack on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, after the far-right Front National was not invited to take part in a planned “rally of national unity” on Sunday.
Front National leader Marine Le Pen yesterday condemned the “exclusion” of her far-right party from the event in Paris.
She told AFP: "Things are clear. They are saying ‘the FN is not welcome’.
She had earlier said that she was waiting for a call from Prime Minister Manuel Valls, saying it was “obvious” that a party that won 25% of the vote in last year’s European elections should be invited to join.
The government has not yet confirmed that the FN has not been invited to Sunday's event, where President François Hollande will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with 2012 Presidential election adversary Nicolas Sarkozy at the head of the march and will see politicians and elected officials from almost all mainstream parties take to the streets.
Mr Valls told RTL radio that there could be “no exclusion from national unity” but added that national unity involved “deeply republican values,” which include, he said: “tolerance and refusing to link the religion of Islam with extremism”.
The UMP criticised the decision to exclude the FN. Former Prime Minister
Francois Fillon said he believed it was impossible "to speak of national unity by excluding millions of French".
And Modem’s president Francois Bayrou insisted it was "a bad decision to exclude anyone."
The Mayor of Pau told AFP: "For national unity, to exist, it must adopt a rule that excludes no one."
But former Socialist minister François Lamy said, “only republican parties that refuse to stigmatise and stoke fear”, should take part in Sunday’s rally.
Ms Le Pen had branded the Charlie Hebdo shooting as “a terrorist attack carried out in the name of radical Islam” in a video posted on the party’s website.
She later told France 2 that, “Islamists have declared war on France”, adding that she was due to meet President Francois Hollande, to discuss “measures that need to be implemented to protect our countrymen.”
Ms Le Pen also called for the reinstatement of the death penalty, which had been abolished in 1981.
She said she believed it “should exist in our legal arsenal” and promised to offer a nationwide referendum on the issue if she was elected president in 2017.
“I have always said that I would offer French citizens the possibility to express themselves on the issue through a referendum,” she said.
Former president Nicolas Sarkozy said yesterday that the UMP would support Sunday’s march after being invited to meet President François Hollande at the Elysée.
Meanwhile, left-wing parties, including Hollande’s Socialists, the Communist Party and the Greens, have already declared their support for the rally.
Last night, thousands of people gathered again at Paris’s Place de la Republique and at rallies across the country to honour the victims of the attack.
The Eiffel Tower went dark for five minutes at 8pm yesterday in tribute.
And the Council of Paris today made Charlie Hebdo an honorary citizen of the city.