“Wall of Jerks” in French Magistrates Union Raises Concerns of Political Neutrality

Former President Nicolas Sarkozy is one of those featured on the "Wall of Jerks."  Photo: Flickr.com/Guillaume Paumier

Former President Nicolas Sarkozy is one of those featured on the “Wall of Jerks.”
Photo: Flickr.com/Guillaume Paumier

A storm over political bias of France’s judges has blown up, with the revelation of a bizarre Mur des Cons—literally, “Wall of Jerks” –in France’s second largest Magistrates union.

The wall featured caricatures and insulting slogans of French right wing political heavyweights, including former President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Comments on the wall accuse politicians of a number of crimes, from fascism to a lack of patriotism. Former Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux, for example, was named “the Man of Vichy,” an implied reference to wartime collaboration, while the magistrate Philippe Courroye is named as “gravedigger 92”. Brice Hortefeux also had a far right party Front National (FN) sticker placed next to his headshot.

The wall was secretly filmed by French news site Atlantico, in the offices of Syndicat de la Magistrature  (SM)– Union of Magistrates. The trade union represents a third of magistrates in France and has long been thought of as left wing, but the discovery of this “wall” has angered those on the right with claims that France’s judiciary system is at risk of showing a lack of political neutrality.

Former president Sarkozy was one of the first of many to protest labelling the wall as “outrageous” and “an absolute scandal” while current leader of the Union pour un Movement Populaire (UMP), Jean-Francois Copé, led calls for an investigation.

Dismissing the argument that it was only a local-level union, Copé stressed that it was a magistrates’ union, which had shown significant levels of political involvement including “extremely serious political attacks.”

The president of the SM, however, defended the existence of the wall, with the assertion that it “was created a while ago, in the Sarkozy era when judges were attacked from all sides.” He countered critics by attacking the filming of a private place, saying the graffiti was designed as “stress relief.”

However, the wall has not been seen as a complete insult by all the politicians it vilifies, with UMP politician and former advisor to Nicholas Sarkozy, Patrick Davedjian proclaiming on Twitter that, “to be mentioned on the wall of jerks is in fact an advantage!” By this reaction, he is hinting that there were legitimate grounds for legal action.

Other legal calls come from the Justice Minister, Christiane Taubira, who on Thursday April 25 announced she had gone to the Supreme Judicial Council for advice regarding the “Mur Des Cons.”

Nadine Morano, former UMP minister, claimed on Twitter that the wall showed the true face of the Union, calling it a “disgrace,”,whilse Louis Aliot, Vice President of the FN, raised the question of whether the entire union should be closed, labelling it as “subversive” and “contrary to basic democratic principles.”

Comments

  1. Fred Kirby says:

    Reblogged this on FredWritingThings and commented:
    This is my first post for La Jeune Politique, I’m going to be posting there every Sunday from now on.

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