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Hamon urges Hollande to take position on burkini issue

Benoît Hamon has urged French President François Hollande to take a clear position on the burkini issue.
Benoît Hamon has urged French President François Hollande to take a clear position on the burkini issue. Bertrand Guay/AFP

Benoît Hamon, candidate for the Socialist Party primary for the 2017 presidential election, urged French President François Hollande to take a clear position on the controversy surrounding the burkini as well as to rein in Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

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The former Minister of Education, who left the government two years ago over differences with the line taken by Hollande and Valls, termed the recent statements made by the head of the government (Valls) as “excesses” including his latter’s support for the mayors who signed decrees banning religious clothing on beaches.

“I expect (the head of state) to put an end to this drift, which is increasingly getting stronger, from the head of the government (Valls) on the questions of identity," Hamon told RTL. 

“When one has such power today, when we see that the government explodes on this issue, because the Prime Minister chose to go too far in following (former President) Nicolas Sarkozy who himself follows (far right leader) Marine Le Pen, I wish the President ends this silence,” he added.

Alluding to the burkini controversy, Hollande had said on Thursday that life in France “supposes that everyone sticks to the rules and that there is neither provocation nor stigmatisation”.

The controversy, triggered by the decision of several mayors of southern seaside towns to ban religious clothing, spread to the government and some ministers did not hide their annoyance at the turn the debate has taken.

Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said the “proliferation” of burkini bans “was not a welcome development”.

Vallaud-Belkacem took issue with the wording of the ban in Nice which linked the measure to the jihadist truck attack in the resort last month in which 86 people were killed.

“In my opinion, there is nothing to prove that there is a link between the terrorism of Daesh (Islamic State armed group) and what a woman wears on a beach,” she said.

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