December 10, 2023 2 min read

Tổng thống Pháp bị ‘tổng công kích’ vì tổ chức nghi lễ Do Thái ở điện Elysée - 1
French President Emmanuel Macron is under fire, accused of "betraying the French Republic" for hosting the opening ceremony of the Hanukkah Festival at the Elysée Palace, the official residence of the French President. This move is seen as a breach of the country's secularism, prompting strong criticism from opposition parties in France.

During an awards ceremony at the Salle des Fêtes in the Elysée Palace on December 7, where Rabbi Haïm Korsia, the Chief Rabbi of France, was honored for his contributions to combating anti-Semitism, President Macron focused on Rabbi Korsia as he lit the first candle to commence the week-long Hanukkah celebration.

A video capturing this event quickly sparked intense reactions against Macron's actions. Opposition parties in France strongly condemned the 45-year-old president, accusing him of disrespecting the country's traditional secularism.

Influential far-right politician Manuel Bompard and Green Party deputy leader Sandrine Rousseau both criticized Macron, stating that he made an "unforgivable political mistake" and that supporting the Jewish community in France through alternative means would have been more appropriate than allowing a religious ceremony at the Elysée Palace.

Tổng thống Pháp bị ‘tổng công kích’ vì tổ chức nghi lễ Do Thái ở điện Elysée - 2

The strongest rebuke came from the President of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF), Yonathan Arfi, who emphasized that staying out of any religious actions "is in the DNA of the French Republic," and organizing the Hanukkah ceremony at the Elysée Palace was a mistake.

In response to the criticism, President Macron dismissed claims of disrespecting France's secularism, asserting that allowing the ceremony at the Elysée Palace was in line with the inclusive spirit of the Republic. He expressed no regrets and affirmed his commitment to allowing such ceremonies.

Government officials in France voiced their support for Macron. Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne noted that Macron aimed to "send a message of support to the Jewish community" amid rising signs of anti-Semitism. According to statistics, France has recorded over 1,500 anti-Semitic acts or comments since the outbreak of the Hamas-Israel conflict.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin stressed that Macron "always respects all religions," highlighting that secularism, which clearly separates religious activities from civil affairs, is considered an "immutable law" in the country.

This incident follows previous controversies involving President Macron and religious matters. In September 2023, Macron attended a Catholic Mass led by Pope Francis in Marseille, southern France, while the government was actively pushing for a ban on Muslim women wearing traditional Abaya attire in schools.

Moreover, Macron declined to participate in a major march supporting the fight against anti-Semitism in mid-November in Paris, citing the event being exploited by some opposition politicians for personal gain. His absence drew severe criticism from politicians on both sides of the spectrum, as well as the French Jewish community. 

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