Sarkozy, Le Pen honour Joan of Arc
Saint joins the presidential election campaign as right-wing rivals lay claim to her heritage
JOAN OF ARC has joined the presidential race on her 600th birthday as both President Sarkozy and Front National leader Marine Le Pen bid to mark the anniversary - and lay claim to her heritage.
Sarkozy is making an official visit to her place of birth at Domrémy-la-Pucelle in the Vosges today to lay a commemorative plaque and will then visit another Lorraine town, Vaucouleurs, where St Joan first called for support in 1429 as she tried to reach the French king, Charles VII.
Le Pen will be joined by her father, former party leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, at the Joan of Arc statue in Rue des Pyramides in Paris tomorrow to honour what she called the "symbol of the French nation". She has attacked Sarkozy for "electoral opportunism" and "devaluing" St Joan's high ideals.
Historian Professor Jean Garrigues of the University of Orleans told newspaper 20 Minutes: "The more severe the crisis, the stronger the identification with figures of resistance - those such as Joan of Arc, Napoleon and Vercingetorix. The use of Joan of Arc, the guardian angel, republican heroine and Christian is a key to national identity."
Ecology and Green candidate Eva Joly also joined the fray saying that for Sarkozy to "find inspiration in Joan of Arc" in the middle of European crisis was "bizarre". She was an "ultra nationalist" symbol. The medieval woman who "booted the English out of France" was "not the symbol we look for today".