Star of France’s political right serves red meat to US conservative conference

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After laying low for a year following her aunt’s humiliating election defeat, French hard-right firebrand Marion Marechal-Le Pen came roaring back at the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday, with a nationalist speech that cast France as a society overwhelmed by the European Union, Islam and secularism.

France, she told CPAC, has been transformed “from the eldest daughter of the Catholic Church to the little niece of Islam” and into “an atomized world of individuals without gender, without mother, without father, without nation.”

“We are once again standing side-by-side in another battle for freedom,” Marechal-Le Pen told the cheering crowd. “I am not offended when I hear President Donald Trump say America first – I want America first for the American people, I want Britain first for the British people and I want France first for the French people.”

In 2012, at age 22, Maréchal-Le Pen became the youngest person ever elected to France’s national assembly. In July 2016, just before he joined the Trump campaign, then-Breitbart editor Steve Bannon described her as “the new rising star” of the political dynasty founded by her great grandfather, Jean-Marie Le Pen, a virulent anti-Semite.

While she denies being a racist or anti-Semitic herself, Maréchal-Le Pen’s views on France’s large Muslim population echo the alt-right message.

“We are not a land of Islam,” Le Pen told supporters in 2015. “And if French citizens can be Muslims, it’s on the condition to submit to habits and ways of life that the Greek, Roman influence and 16 centuries of Christianity have shaped.”

In 2017, after her aunt, Marine Le Pen, was crushed in the presidential election by Emmanuel Macron, Maréchal-Le Pen gave up her seat and stepped out of the spotlight.

“At 27, it is time for me to leave it for a while,” she explained at the time, adding “I am not giving up the political fight forever. I have the love of my country embedded in my heart and I cannot remain indifferent to the suffering of my compatriots.”

Thursday at CPAC she announced a new transatlantic initiative to connect political activists who share her hard right views.

“Just like you, we want our country back,” she said in a short, high-energy speech delivered in heavily accented but fluent English. “I come here to tell you there is a youth ready to fight for their country in Europe today.”