After the attack on philosopher Alain Finkielkraut during the Yellow Vest demonstration in Paris on 17 February, “Boulevard Voltaire” wanted to know the opinion of Ivan Rioufol, who had been following the movement from the beginning. How does he see its development?
Boulevard Voltaire: The recent verbal attack on Alain Finkielkraut by Yellow Vests has aroused the suspicion of antisemitism in some journalists and observers. Are the Yellow Vests responsible for the rise in antisemitism?
Ivan Rioufol: The Yellow Vests are guilty, if at all, of having allowed to be infiltrated by an antisemitic group. These antisemitic circles are by no means representatives of the “Gilets jaunes”. That would be too easy.
When I hear that some people assert that antisemitism is at the heart of the Yellow West movement, it’s “fake news”. That’s not true.
Last week, the newspaper “Le Monde” searched the Facebook accounts of all the Yellow Vest networks and concluded that there was no sign of antisemitism, homophobia or racism anywhere in the key terms.
We can see that this accusation of antisemitism produces a picture with a Salafi touch. Why is such information disseminated? Is it about undermining the credibility of the Yellow West movement?
Since 17 November, part of the official discourse has been aimed at undermining the credibility of this movement, which – rightly – is quite disturbing to the government. It is indeed disturbing, since a greater part of the neglected inhabitants is concerned, who are demanding that they can take again their place in history.
Because it was convenient, one wanted to make believe that this part of the population were lepers – there was talk of “emerging leprosy”, and of similarly beautiful terms … All these statements were put forward in order to stop this uprising.
The more the government tries to silence this revolt, the more it fires radicalism. Of course, I do not justify this one, but the government and many intellectuals are doing everything they can to denigrate the “Gilets jaunes”.
They would also like to express themselves. Unfortunately, they often do it awkwardly. There are no leaders and no slogans. They allow their own revolution to be taken over by extremist circles. You can’t blame them for that. I defended this movement from the beginning. I think it is legitimate and democratic. It simply asks for democratising democracy. These are not my words, but those of Laurent Fabius [President of the Constitutional Council] on the radio.
How do you see the further development of this movement?
It all depends on how you look at it. If you measure it against the derailments then the discomfort is certainly present. I feel it too, by the way. I can’t bear the repeated violence which is related with the movement’s infiltration by the extreme left and by the Islamists. On this point, the images speak for themselves.
I do understand that the public is reluctant when faced with the Yellow Vests’ stubbornness to pursue a course of action that does not bring any advantage at the moment. It is now up to them to invent something else. I think they should go back to the roundabouts and the places where they met instead of allowing to be presented distortedly.
But the basic problem remains. It has by no means been resolved. There is an urgent need to tackle an existential crisis. •
Source: Boulevard Voltaire, www.bvoltaire.fr from 19.2.2019
(Translation Current Concerns)
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