Socialist contender Martine Aubry hits back at internet slurs

With nine months to go before the first round of voting, the 2012 French presidential election is already shaping up to be one of the nastiest in history.

Martine Aubry, the Socialist Party's leader and presidential contender, has taken the unusual step of publicly denouncing rumours that are proliferating on the internet about her husband, her health and her private life. In particular, Ms Aubry, 60, the mayor of Lille, has threatened to sue websites which refuse to remove material claiming that her husband, a distinguished French lawyer, is a secret Islamist radical.

Although the websites appear to have an allegiance to the racist, extreme right, Ms Aubry made it clear that she believed members of President Nicolas Sarkozy's centre-right party, the Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP), were behind the campaign. She even suggested that the attacks on her husband had been inspired by a cryptic remark made by President Sarkozy in January 2010.

Other rumours circulating on the French language internet and blogosphere make claims about Ms Aubry's private life and her health.

The campaign, which started last year but has intensified since Ms Aubry declared herself a presidential candidate last month, has added to the atmosphere of suspicion and name-calling between left and right generated by "l'affaire DSK".

Some left-wing politicians have suggested that the arrest of Dominique Strauss-Kahn on rape charges in New York in May was part of a political plot hatched in Paris. There is no credible evidence to support these claims but there is some evidence the Sarkozy camp had intended to use allegations about DSK's previous sexual activities as part of a whispering campaign if he joined the presidential race. Centre-right politicians retort that derogatory rumours about President Sarkozy have been circulating for years.

Ms Aubry said she had no fear of personal attacks but would not tolerate mendacious assaults on her husband, Jean-Louis Brochen. According to a series of lurid claims on websites, blogs and Facebook accounts, Mr Brochen, 66, a distinguished Lille-based lawyer, is a "secret" Islamist fundamentalist. The only evidence offered is that Mr Brochen has occasionally defended Muslim clients.

Although the claims are made mostly by xenophobic far-right sites, the claims have been repeated on the Facebook account of at least one senior UMP activist.

The UMP party leader Jean-François Copé yesterday dismissed any suggestions that his party was behind the campaign against Ms Aubry. However, Mr Copé has recently taken to making cryptic remarks about Ms Aubry's alleged "softness" on Islamic issues.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Production Operative

£13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to a period of sustained an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Content Leader

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role requires a high level...

Recruitment Genius: Multi Drop Driver

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This food distribution company ...

Recruitment Genius: Multi Drop Driver

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This food distribution company ...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent