French Prime Minister Manuel Valls poured more oil onto the ongoing controversy over Islamic clothing in public places, when he appeared to suggest that head-to-toe coverings worn by Muslim women contravened the French spirit.
Valls, who is considered to be on the right wing of the ruling Socialist party, invoked the image of country’s national symbol, Marianne, which was adopted during the French Revolution to represent freedom and enlightenment – and the rejection of traditional values.
“Marianne has bare breasts because she feeds the people, she does not wear a headscarf because she is free!” Valls told a group of supporters during a public speech. “That’s the Republic!”
“La Liberté guidant le Peuple” (Liberty guiding the People), by Eugène Delacroix, a famous French painting showing revolutionaries storming the citadels in 1789, led by Marianne, bringing down the old aristocratic French regime during the French revolution.
Left-wing historian Mathilde Larrere shot back that “Marianne has a bare breast because it’s an allegory, you cretin!” She then posted a series of images showing that Marianne was not always bare-breasted, noting that she is often wearing a Phrygian cap, itself a head covering, albeit one that symbolizes freedom.
hat-tip Stephen Neil