Marseille 2014: Socialist Party Candidate Patrick Mennucci loses the mosque battleground

April 10, 2014


On Friday March 28th, the walls of a mosque in downtown Marseille were covered with posters in Arabic containing defamatory writings against Jean-Claude Gaudin, the current Mayor of Marseilles. While the police have yet to receive an official complaint, it has been suggested that the act was a means for the followers of Patrick Mennucci – the Socialist Mayor of the district where the mosque is located  – to seek revenge on the campaign led by Muslim leaders against ‘marriage for all’ and the introduction of gender theory classes in schools.

For Omar Djelil, a candidate for the 2nd and 3rd districts of Marseille and former Secretary General of Al Taqwa Mosque, a major concern of these elections is to cut off Patrick Mennucci, who supports gay marriage, from his Muslim electoral base. According to Djelil, the campaigns that he himself led against Mennucci via posters and social networks, after the candidate’s call to make Marseilles a ‘gay-friendly’ city, explains in large part the abstention rate of the Muslim electoral body otherwise known for supporting the Socialists. ‘However, we only used social and political arguments. We didn’t insult anyone personally, unlike those recent posters put up on our mosques’, said Djelil.

According to the leaders of religious communities, the municipal campaigns have indeed penetrated into places of worship: ‘although nobody dares to take a stance during the Friday prayer sermon, since mosques are very much under watch.’ On the other hand, gender theory classes and gay marriage are being overtly denounced. On several occasions, veiled women were seen distributing tracts against gay marriage in front of schools, said one witness.

As for the far-right Front National (FN) party, the regional candidate Stephane Ravier did well in certain districts, even making double the amount of votes of the incumbent mayor in one area. Apparently, the FN isn’t as threatening to Muslims and the generation born to parents from the former colonies: in the towns of Flamants, Frais-Vallon and Merlan, voters of Comorian and North African origin, the majority of whom are Muslim, didn’t hesitate to give their votes to Ravier.