Yoga, Yurts and Holocaust Denial — French Countryside Mayor Bemoans Upcoming Extremist ‘Summer School’
The mayor of one of southern France’s most picturesque towns expressed fury on Tuesday after learning that a group of right-wing activists and conspiracy theorists — including convicted Holocaust denier Alain Soral — were planning to hold a “summer school” there at the end of August.
“I say it clearly, Soral is not welcome here,” Alexandre Reynal — mayor of the town of Amelie-les-Bain in the spectacular Pyrénées-Orientales region — told a local news outlet on Tuesday.
“Obviously, I can’t prevent his arrival or the event itself, because it’s taking place at a private site, but there is no question of this group using public resources,” Reynal added.
The news of the summer event organized by Soral’s website “Égalité et Réconciliation” (“Equality and Reconciliation”) came one week after French Jews sharply criticized the Paris public prosecutor’s decision to overturn a court sentence that would have sent the veteran far-right activist to prison for the first time. Soral was sentenced to a year’s jail time on Apr. 15, after again breaking French law that proscribes Holocaust denial.
The planned summer school in the Pyrénées-Orientales is scheduled for Aug. 25-31, with an agenda that blends meditation and exercise with far right politics and exotic conspiracy theories.
All meals are provided, and attendees can choose between a yurt, a dome or a regular tent for their accommodation.
Each morning begins with an exercise session to focus the mind, with hiking and mountain-climbing among the main activities throughout the week. The daily “classes” given by Soral and his co-thinkers are the focal point of the gathering.
Soral’s fellow “trainers” include Youssef Hindi, a French writer of Moroccan descent, and Damien Viguier, a lawyer who wrote the Holocaust denial article that earned Soral his initial prison sentence.
Among Hindi’s several books is an attack on Zionism that presents the Jewish national liberation movement as the tool of “international Jewish financial power that pressured the western states from the inside to endorse the Zionist project.”
Lucien Cerise — a vocal “yellow vests” activist who promotes anti-globalist conspiracy theories centered upon George Soros, the Hungarian-Jewish financier — is also scheduled to speak.
The attraction of both far-right and extreme-left groups to the “yellow vests” movement — launched last year to protest a now-abandoned government fuel tax — has heightened the spread of anti-globalist and antisemitic ideas in a country where outrages against the Jewish community continue to rise dramatically.
One of the more notable incidents occurred in February this year, when the leading French-Jewish philosopher Alain Finkielkraut was subjected to antisemitic taunts and insults from “yellow vests” protesters near his home in Paris.