French left leader accused of promoting conspiracy theories
French far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon has been accused of promoting conspiracy theories by suggesting that Jihadist attacks, including one which killed four French Jews in 2012, were planned "in advance" to manipulate voters ahead of presidential elections, according to French media.
"You'll see, in the last weeks of the presidential campaign, we'll have a serious incident or a murder," the head of the France Unbowed party was quoted as saying, during his appearance on a political talk show.
He pointed to the murder of three Jewish children and a rabbi at Jewish school by Algerian-born Jihadist Mohammed Merah before the 2012 vote, as well as the killing of a police officer in Paris just prior to the 2017 election, as apparent evidence for his claim.
His remarks implied that such attacks spurred voters to back leaders with a strong anti-Muslim stance, such as Marine Le Pen.
Melenchon also suggested that President Emmanuel Macron was a pawn for murky hegemonic forces in France and that the results for next year's elections had been fixed.
"In every country of the world, they’ve invented someone like him, who comes from nowhere and who's pushed by the oligarchy.,” Melenchon, who won 19% of the vote in the 2017 Presidential race, claimed.
His comments were derided by an array of French political figures. A junior cabinet minister labelled them as a "mix of paranoia and conspiracy theories", while Digital Affairs Minister Cedric O said they signalled a "political and republican disaster".
But his party defended him. Clementine Autain, a candidate for Parisian regional elections, argued that Melenchon was "not a conspiracy theorist" and instead wanted to highlight the manipulation of crime for political ends by the right and the far-right.
Melenchon remains a controversial figure within the French left. He has expressed support Russia's brutal intervention in Syria, at the same time denying accusation that he supports President Vladmir Putin.