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France

France’s Front National suspends councillor who converted to Islam

media Suspended Front National councillor Maxence Buttey Open access

France’s far-right Front National (FN) has suspended a local councillor who has converted to Islam. The 22-year-old from Noisy-le-Grand, near Paris, is accused of seeking converts for his adopted religion within the party, which campaigns against immigration and the “Islamisation of France”.

The FN’s Seine-Saint-Denis federation has temporarily suspended Noisy-le-Grand councillor Maxence Buttey, who converted to Islam last July.

“It’s not the question his religion but that he openly practised proselytism by sending out a video that praised Islam,” the federation’s secretary, Jordan Bartella said.

Buttey, who denies the charge, says that he sent the video, which claims to show that the Koran predicted several “scientific miracles”, to about 10 FN activists in response to the “incomprehension” that his conversion had caused in party circles.

“Islam is not jihad,” he commented, while admitting that sending out the video was unwise.

The FN has revamped its image under new leader Marine Le Pen, condemning anti-Semitism and presenting itself as a defender of France’s secular constitution against public manifestations of Islam.

“His religion is none of the party’s business because we defend secularism,” party vice-president Florian Philippot said on Saturday. “But here we have left the domain of personal conviction and faith. A political party is not the place for that.”

Bartella says he has also taken disciplinary action against another Seine-Saint-Denis activist, Didier Labaune, who raised the matter with party officials in October, because he tipped off the press.

Labaune also insists that Buttey’s conversion is not the issue but says he is worried because the councillor is “impressionable”.

“Who is to say he won’t become a terrorist?” he asked the Metronews freesheet, while another local activist, Cyril Bozonnet, insisted that “Maxence Buttey must choose between the FN and his religion.”

Buttey is to appear before the FN’s conflicts committee in November and could face expulsion from the party.
 

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