Young Le Pen Wants to Join Reserves in Headache for Hollande

  • National Front heiress tells “young patriots” to join army
  • Catholic priest killed by two terrorists shocks France

Marion Marechal-Le Pen, the heiress to France’s biggest far-right dynasty, wants to join the country’s military reserves. The move is more political stunt than patriotic engagement and it may prove a headache for President Francois Hollande.

The Socialist head of state called on citizens to join the reserves this month in an attempt to generate a sense of national unity and to relieve police and military weary after a year and a half on full anti-terrorist footing.

“Young French patriots should make this civic move and join the reserves,” Le Pen, a National Front lawmaker, said Wednesday on RMC radio Wednesday. “I myself am ready to do so.”

Yet the call to duty from the 26-year grand daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the anti-immigrant National Front, risks muddying the waters for Hollande. Le Pen, who is also the niece of her party’s current leader, immediately went on to attack the Socialist administration for failing to provide security at a time when the nation has suffered repeated terrorist attacks.

“If the French state does not protect its people they will have to do it themselves,” she said. “The government is weak and timid” in its respond to terrorism.

The military reserves are made of civilians and veterans who join the stretched army for a “temporary support,” according the Defense Ministry website. The reservists assist French security forces for at least a dozen days per year in any kind of tasks ranging from administrative support to helping protect train stations, churches or schools. About 2,500 French citizens asked to be enrolled since the president called on volunteers on July 15, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Wednesday.

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