The Mayor, the Migrants and France’s Far Right
Lucy Ash reports from the French town of Beziers run by a controversial Front National-aligned mayor. With a population of 71,000, Beziers is by far the biggest of the 11 towns controlled by the far right in France. Since being elected last year Robert Menard has tried imposing curfews on minors, banned people from hanging washing from balconies and - Singapore style - outlawed spitting in public. He has also armed the local police and put posters of giant handguns across the town reading, ‘Police officers now have a new friend’. His latest campaign is focussed on a group of eight Syrian families, who have moved into empty, run-down apartments. With great media fanfare, and accompanied by armed police, he told them that they were not welcome in his town and ordered them to leave. According to his critics, the mayor has turned Beziers into ‘a laboratory of the extreme right’ which stigmatizes the poor and especially immigrnts. But, as Robert Menard tells Lucy Ash, his only objective is to improve the city he has been elected to run.
Produced by John Murphy
(Photo: The far-right mayor of Beziers, in France, causes uproar with his anti-immigrant politics)