French authorities removed a temporary installation of a giant European Union (EU) flag at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Jan. 2 after outrage from right-wing politicians.
Authorities raised the EU flag in place of the French flag at the famous monument on New Year’s Eve to mark France’s turn at the rotating presidency of the EU Council for the next six months.
However, right-wing presidential candidates accused the installation as an attack on the country’s identity.
“Presiding over Europe yes, erasing French identity no! I solemnly ask Emmanuel Macron to re-establish our tricolor alongside that of Europe under the Arc de Triomphe. We owe it all our fighters who shed their blood for him,” conservative candidate Valérie Pécresse said on Twitter.
Far-right independent candidate Eric Zemmour called the flag installation “an outrage.”
After the removal of the EU flag, far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who had pledged to file a complaint with the State Council, described it as “a great patriotic victory.”
Le Pen added that the government “was forced” to remove the EU flag due to “the massive mobilization of all lovers of France and the Republic to push back Emmanuel Macron.”
However, European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune said that the flag had been taken down as planned.
“It was scheduled that the flag was to be taken down this Sunday. We hadn’t established an exact time,” Beaune told France Inter radio.
Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti criticized the wright-wing candidates, saying that they “have forgotten that the founding fathers of the European Union built [the Arc de Triomphe] to put an end to centuries of war and the sacrifices of soldiers.”
“Seventy years of peace later, this controversy is outrageous,” Dupond-Moretti said.
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