Taha Bouhafs: Franco-Algerian candidate quits France's legislative election due to death threats
Taha Bouhafs, a Franco-Algerian socialist politician has withdrawn from France's legislative elections after his candidacy caused a wave of attacks, including death threats on the young politician.
"Every day, a new slander, a new insult, a new death threat, a new accusation, (...) I have no right to exist politically," wrote Bouhafs in a press release in the first hours of May 10.
The 25-year-old journalist, who is a controversial figure in the French political-media sphere, was the candidate of the socialist democratic party La France Insoumise (LFI) in the 14th district of the Rhône in the current legislative elections.
Since confirming his candidacy on 7 May, Taha Bouhafs has deplored an "unprecedented" level of attacks from both the rightwing and the leftwing parties, due to his history of problematic statements against Charlie Hebdo caricatures and the French police.
"I do not understand how La France Insoumise can present someone who has been convicted of racist insult," said Fabien Roussel, Secretary-General of the French Communist Party, which joined the newborn leftist union headed by La France Insoumise party.
In 2020, Taha Bouhafs was fined 1,500 euros for calling police officer Linda Kebbab, an "Arab on duty (Arabe de service)," - a French slur aimed at North African people accused of being racial traitors and being complacent with the dominant white group.
Bouhafs attacked Kebbab after she has defended the police in the case of the death of Adama Traoré, a Black French man who died in custody in controversial conditions.
On several occasions, Bouhafss traced his path as a polemic journalist whose provocative tone attracted him as many followers as rivals.
In 2019, Bouhafs wrote on Twitter, "The lousy people of Charlie Hebdo exist only through the indignation of us." He also called on people to stop commenting on "their disgusting headlines and they will cease to be."
The young self-educated journalist, who grew up in a popular district of Echirolles, in the southeastern of France, is known for recording, without being aware of his identity, the Elysée's representative Alexandre Benalla beating up a demonstrator on the Place de la Contrescarpe, on 1 May, 2018. Bouhafs' video led to the fall of Benalla, Macron's ex-favourite bodyguard.
The candidacy of Bouhafs has even made the French president Emmanuel Macron react.
On 4 May, "Le Canard enchainé" reported remarks by the President in which he described the investiture of Taha Bouhafs by LFI as "a crazy story" which had "stunned" him.
Meanwhile, Jean-Luc-Mélenchon, the ex-candidate for the French presidential elections and the head of la France Insoumise, continued to voice support for the Franco-Algerian journalist.
Taha Bouhafs retire sa candidature aux législatives. Une meute s'est acharnée contre lui. À 25 ans c'est lourd de vivre avec des menaces de mort et des mises en cause publiques quotidiennes. Je m'en veux de ne pas avoir su le réconforter autant que nécessaire.— Jean-Luc Mélenchon (@JLMelenchon) May 10, 2022
"At 25, it's hard to live with daily death threats and public accusations. I blame myself for not being able to comfort him as much as necessary," tweeted the Morocco-born politician in reaction to Bouhafs' withdrawal.
From his part, Bouhafs said he has not been supported enough to hold on, but enough to be grateful for.
"I hope this statement doesn't make you give up. Keep fighting. For my part, I tried, but I didn't. can't do it anymore," the young journalist said in the conclusion of his press statement that evoked different reactions on Twitter.