Hundreds protest removal of Virgin Mary statue – video
The statue is to be removed by a court order for violating the law on the separation of church and state by standing in a public place. Some believe that what is happening now is an attack on French civilisation by an extremist minority.
Hundreds took to the streets on the island of Ile de Re in the western part of France in order to protect French heritage and tradition, according to an article in the France Bleu newspaper. Approximately 350 people took part in the protest, including activists from the right-wing politician Eric Zemmour’s party, Catholic believers and residents of the small town, who stood as one against the removal of a statue of the Virgin Mary from its current location. The protestors knelt in front of the statue and prayed that there would finally be peace and that a solution could be found, so that the statue would not have to be taken anywhere.
The case began years ago. In 2020, the non-profit organisation La Libre Pensee (Free Thought) initiated the removal of the statue at the court, because they believe that the fact that the work depicting the Virgin Mary is on public land under the authority of the municipality violates a 1905 law on the separation of religion and state. The statue was made by a family as a sign of their gratitude that the father and son had returned home safely from the battlefield after the Second World War. First, the statue stood in the yard of a private house, then it was donated to the municipality, which erected it at a crossroads in 1983, reports Le Figaro. The statue was damaged by a car in 2020, and after the city government reinstated a copy of the original statue on a pedestal, the association La Libre Pensee launched legal proceedings to have it removed from its current location. The association achieved its goal on 13 January 2023, when the Bordeaux Administrative Court of Appeal approved the decision of the Poitiers Administrative Court, which ordered the removal of the statue within 6 months.
Stanislas Rigault, the president of the Generation Z association, which is comprised of Eric Zemmour supporters, took part in the weekend action. Based on his Twitter post, 500 people gathered in the settlement to defend the statue of the Virgin Mary, which a far-left association wants to remove.
🔴500 personnes aujourd’hui á l’Île de Ré pour défendre la statue de la Vierge Marie qu’une association d’extrême gauche veut faire disparaître !🇫🇷⤵️ pic.twitter.com/5dTDXxmA9E
— Stanislas Rigault (@stanislasrig) January 28, 2023
The editor-in-chief of the French conservative newspaper Valeurs actuelles, Geoffroy Lejeune, also spoke about what happened in a TV program. He said that few people are bothered by a statue of Mary in a public space, especially if it has been there for a long time.
Peu de gens sont heurtés par la présence d’une statue de Marie ou des calvaires dans l’espace public, surtout s’ils sont lá depuis très longtemps.
Il ya une offensive d’hystériques ultra-minoritaires qui mènent ce combat au moment où notre civilization est attacée. pic.twitter.com/6xNoagmhyQ
— Geoffroy Lejeune (@GeoffroyLejeune) January 29, 2023
In the journalist’s opinion
it is an ideological battle waged by fanatics, a hysterical offensive by a radical minority, with which they are attacking French civilisation.
However, in connection with La Libre Penee – the association behind the removal – it is important to note that in other cases they appear less perturbed by the presence of religious symbols, as they have been supporting the wearing of the Muslim headscarf for years. According to a statement published on the association ‘s website in 2015, they advocate for the university’s right, as stated in French education law, whereby police cannot interfere in the affairs of the institution without the consent of the management. The association used this passage to justify its position, maintaining that it is not legally possible to prohibit the wearing of the above-mentioned Muslim religious symbol in public education spaces, since it is a fundamental right pertaining to the freedom of students.