Some 167 lawmakers from French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party and allied groups have defended the new interior minister, who was appointed in spite of being the object of a rape complaint.
“A public vendetta is not justice,” the deputies and senators wrote in a column in Le Monde on Wednesday, defending Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin’s right to the presumption of innocence.
According to them, in the countries where the presumption of innocence is violated, the victims of sexual violence and women in general, are never better protected.
Darmanin has strongly rejected the accusation.
Macron also defended him in an interview on Tuesday marking Bastille Day, arguing that investigations had been dropped several times before being reopened recently “for procedural reasons.”
“The fight for women’s equality and against sexual violence was a great national cause of the president’s mandate, but it could not involve giving up on the rule of law,’’ the lawmakers wrote.
However, in another column in the same paper, 91 feminist activists and intellectuals from 35 countries condemned the appointment of Darmanin and Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti, a prominent lawyer who criticised aspects of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment.
“This French government reshuffle represents an anti-feminist political shift whose importance goes far beyond France’s borders,’’ the signatories, including Nobel Prize winners Shirin Ebadi of Iran and Svetlana Alexievich of Belarus, wrote.
“The appointments will comfort other governments who remain deaf to the fight for equality and against the generalised violence that women suffer,’’ they argued.
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