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Darmanin accused of “damaging” democracy

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By threatening to cut the subsidies of the League of Human Rights, the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, on Wednesday took a new step in the fight he is leading against his opponents. Back over several weeks of a sequence which “damages democracy”, according to historian Mathilde Larrère.

“A freewheeling minister”, “shocked”, “it goes beyond the limits”, “extremely serious”: the left was unanimous, Wednesday April 5, to condemn the remarks of the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, who had just threatening to lower the subsidies of the League of Human Rights (LDH), during a hearing in the Senate on its management of the maintenance of order.

A threat perceived as one more attack against a dissenting voice in the Minister of the Interior – the LDH having openly contradicted Gérald Darmanin after the violence during the demonstrations in Sainte-Soline – and which comes in addition, according to its opponents, to disqualifying terms and untruths that have been used for several weeks.

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“We are in an acceleration of the disintegration of our democratic rules and our rule of law. It is a clear authoritarian drift”, severely judges the historian Mathilde Larrère, specialist in the revolutions of the XIXe century in France and citizenship, also an activist engaged with the Nupes during the campaign for the 2022 legislative elections.

  • The League of Human Rights threatened

In response to an intervention by Senator Les Républicains François Bonhomme, who called for “stop funding associations that seriously challenge the state”, Gérald Darmanin mentioned, Wednesday, April 5, during his hearing in the Senate on his management of the law enforcement, the League of Human Rights.

This association, founded in 1898 at the time of the Dreyfus affair, is used to deploying citizen observers during demonstrations to, among other things, document the system of maintaining order. An action strongly criticized by Gérald Darmanin, who thus declared that the subsidy given by the State “deserves to be looked at within the framework of the actions which could be carried out” and underlined that the local authorities also financed the LDH.

“For one hundred and twenty years, the LDH has defended the rights and freedoms for all as a counterweight to the powers that always tend to abuse, even in a democracy”, answers its president, Patrick Baudouin, in an interview with Release.

“The only period when it was really challenged was a dark period in our history, since it was under Vichy where we were completely questioned and there was no longer any question of giving us subsidies, “he continues. So would Gérald Darmanin want to return to a similar period? I can’t imagine it. But to let such a threat hang over it is extremely worrying about the state of our democracy.”

  • “Disqualified” opponents

“I refuse to give in to the intellectual terrorism of the far left which consists in overthrowing values: the thugs would become the attacked and the police the aggressors”, had previously affirmed Gérald Darmanin, Sunday April 2, in an interview with the Sunday newspaper.

A statement that scandalized his political opponents who denounce a long list of remarks aimed at disqualifying them by caricaturing them. “When the far left and the ultraleft have been involved since March 16 in undeclared wild demonstrations (…), then yes, chaos is trying to set in, Gérald Darmanin already declared on March 28 at the National Assembly. , in response to a question from deputy LR Éric Ciotti. What I regret, like you, is that there is not unanimity in the political class to denounce these factious groups who want to bring down the Republic. ultra-left does not want to attack the pension reform. It wants to attack the Republic. The ultra-left does not want to attack the government. It wants to attack the police.”

“It is a process already seen at work in our history which aims to criminalize political and social opposition by the misuse of words, analyzes historian Mathilde Larrère. These are speeches quite close to those that the government could hold by Francois Guizot [président du Conseil des ministres de Louis-Philippe de 1847 à 1848, NDLR] during the July Monarchy riots. There was already talk then of rebels and thugs. As for the term terrorist, remember that it is usually used by autocrats. Vladimir Putin, in particular, calls all his enemies ‘terrorists’.”

  • Repeated untruths

Gérald Darmanin has also been guilty on several occasions in recent weeks of practicing alternative truths. Among other examples, the Minister of the Interior thus affirmed on March 27 that the gendarmes present in Sainte-Soline had “not launched LBD in quad” on the demonstrators. Videos have shown otherwise.

“No weapon of war was used by the police in Sainte-Soline”, he declared the same day. Comments again refuted: GM2L grenades and defense bullet launchers (LBD), two types of weapons classified as “war materials” according to the Internal Security Code, were indeed used in Sainte-Soline, a show Release.

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A few days earlier, Gérald Darmanin attacked the right to demonstrate. “Being in an undeclared demonstration is a crime, which deserves an arrest,” he said on March 21 at the microphone of BFMTV. There too, an untruth : the Council of State even deplored, in an order published on March 29, the “erroneous nature” of this declaration.

“Lying is now a great classic, regrets Mathilde Larrère. It is the sign of a democracy which is slowly dying because there is no longer any reaction on TV sets when a member of the government should not be able to lie like that.”

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