Far right journalist Éric Zemmour was wrong to have used a photo of the Queen shooting a gun at a gun range to justify his pointing of a sniper rifle at journalists during a trade fair, says the head of the French target-shooting gun federation.
Mr Zemmour was visiting a security services trade fair when he picked up an unloaded gun from a stand, put it to his shoulder and pointed it at journalists, saying: “You’re not laughing anymore, eh? Get back, get back!”
En visite au salon Milipol, Éric Zemmour pose avec le sniper utilisé par le Raid. « Ça rigole plus là hein...Reculez ! », dit-il à la presse pic.twitter.com/oXKsGlZ4qG— Lucas Burel (@L_heguiaphal) October 20, 2021
Mr Zemmour later said the incident at the Milipol show was “a joke” and there was “no political message or threat.”
However, this “joke” provoked outrage from the government with the Minister for Citizenship Marlène Schiappa saying in a Tweet that she was horrified.
Viser des journalistes avec une arme en leur disant « reculez ! » n'est pas drôle.— MarleneSchiappa (@MarleneSchiappa) October 20, 2021
C'est horrifiant. Surtout après avoir dit sérieusement vouloir « réduire le pouvoir des médias. »
Dans une démocratie, la liberté de la presse n'est pas une blague et ne doit jamais être menacée. https://t.co/L9kOPN0zD6
“In a democracy, the freedom of the press is no joke and must never be threatened,” she wrote.
“At what point must we start worrying?”
Mr Zemmour responded that: “Humour is a weapon that Ms Marlène Schiappa does not possess,” and tweeted a photo of the Queen at Bisley in 1991.
Bisley rifle range in Surrey is one of the most famous military and sports rifle ranges in the world, and is where the rules which still govern most target rifle shooting tournaments were finalized.
At the event in 1991, the Queen shot one of the new SL80 rifles, which was clamped into a vice.
The technical director of the Fédération Française de Tir, Gilles Muller, told The Connexion the context of the incident at Milipol meant he did not take it too seriously.
“It is a professional event, with professional people all round to make sure things are safe and there is no live ammunition,” he said.
“Every politician who visits wants to get a picture of them with a gun, and in an exhibition hall, guns, and missile systems and things are pointed everywhere, in safe, show conditions.”
But he said the use of the Queen’s Bisley picture by Mr Zemmour was “pulling the string too far.”
“At Bisley, you are in a highly controlled environment with extremely disciplined shooters all around,” he said.
“I have been there and there were at least six ranges in operation with bullets being fired and everything was very disciplined – no one would joke with a rifle there, and I am sure the Queen was not joking with the gun she used.
“It is an entirely different context and should not have been used by Mr Zemmour.”
Buckingham Palace press office told The Connexion that it will not comment on the matter.
Not a declared candidate but popular in the polls
Eric Zemmour has yet to declare that he is running for president next year but a poll published today (October 22) for Le Monde by Ipsos Sopra Steria predicted that he would gain between 16% and 16.5% of the vote in the first round of the election, enough to put him in a run-off against President Macron if he stands.
In June 2021, an Institut français d’opinion publique poll credited him just 5.5% of the vote.
Mr Zemmour has previously been convicted of inciting racial hatred and at book signings for his latest book La France n’a pas dit son dernier mot (France has not had its last word), he has claimed that “white, heterosexual male[s]” are under threat from ethnic minorities and “the gay lobby.”
He has also claimed that immigration must be stopped or else France will become an “Islamic republic,” and recently asserted that if he were elected president he would ban the use of foreign first names for newborn babies.
During an interview with France 2, Mr Zemmour confirmed that under this rule, “a French person will not be allowed to call their son Mohamed.”
“What bothers me is that three generations [after a family arrives in France], children are still being called Mohamed,” he later told RTL. “For children who are called Mohamed it is a disaster because they become the object of discrimination.
“However, I also think it is an error to allow Kevins and Jordans.”
Mr Zemmour has previously described the French media as a “propaganda machine that hates France.”
"They spit on French history and culture, and they spit on the French people, whom they want to see disappear," he said.