THE Oxford Union is embroiled in yet another debate about free speech, after it invited 'fascist' French politician Marion Maréchal-Le Pen to speak next week.

An Oxford MP has told the Union to 'grow up' and stop inviting 'racist after racist'.

A protest is planned for Tuesday, when Ms Marechal-Le Pen, who is the niece of France’s far-right leader Marine Le Pen, will speak at the Union, from 5pm.

The 29-year-old ‘rising star’ of the far-right holds strong anti-Muslim views, is against same-sex marriage and abortion and is seen as more religious and socially conservative than her aunt, who lost in the final round of the French Presidential election against Emmanuelle Macron.

Update: Second Union storm in two days as 'anti-semitic' PM set for speech

The Union, who have a long history of causing outrage by inviting controversial speakers, have been accused of ‘another disgraceful stunt’.


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Oxford East MP Anneliese Dodds has hammered the Union for inviting a 'fascist' speaker and 'wasting' police resources.

She said: “Inviting Marion Maréchal-Le Pen to the Oxford Union legitimises one of the ‘new generation’ of fascists. She is known to be on the far-right even of the far-right National Rally.

"The Oxford Union’s pathetic courting of publicity by inviting racist after racist is deeply frustrating for local people. Our city is proud of its diversity and yet the Oxford Union seems determined to threaten this.

READ MORE: Dodds condemns Oxford Union for 'Nazi-linked' party leader invite

Ms Dodds continued: "There is also the utter waste of police resources that will be required by her visit, at a time when our hardworking local police officers are already having to cope with strained resources.

"I hope that those running the Oxford Union will grow up; in the meantime, they should cancel their invitation.”

Organisers of a protest wrote on Facebook: “Fascist Marion Maréchal Le Pen has been invited to speak at the Oxford Union.

“The Union has repeatedly hosted far-right speakers, including Tommy Robinson, Nick Griffin and Marion's aunt. The talk is members-only and was only announced a few days before, giving Oxford students no opportunity to voice our strong opposition to a person who believes that Muslims can only be French if they follow Christian culture.

“She has also accused the Muslim community in France of being aligned with terrorist groups, and has repeatedly defended a fellow National Rally member of parliament who refers to Muslims as a ‘treacherous third column’.

“Let’s show up and send a clear message that her and her views are not, and will never be, welcome in our city.” 

In its event description, the Oxford Union write: “Marion Maréchal was elected to France's National Assembly in 2012 at the age of 22, and has been tipped as a future leader of the Front National. 

“She currently works in education, and is the director of the Institute of Social, Economic & Political Science, a school for a new generation of French conservatives.”

The Union did not respond to a request for comment but it has defended similar invitations on free speech grounds previously.

Ms Le Pen became the poster child of the French far-right aged two, when she was pictured being cuddled by her grandfather, the far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, in posters promising “security” for all.

Left-wing author and Oxford University graduate Owen Jones waded in to attack the Union, tweeting: "They may argue they have the right to keep inviting fascists to speak, and legitimising them. But speakers and students also have the right to boycott this trash institution, and they should all exercise it."

Campaigner Ian Mckendrick added: "Oxford Stand Up To Racism is appalled that the Oxford Union has once again shown its willingness to invite extreme right-wing racist politicians to speak. The invitation to former National Assembly member for the fascist National Front (now National Rally), is especially disgusting since it is scheduled during the run up to Holocaust Memorial Day.

Oxford Mail:

Far-right figure Marion Maréchal-Le Pen. Picture: Gage Skidmore

“The National Rally party in France is well-known for its extreme anti-Semitism. Founding member and beloved grandfather of Marion, Jean-Marie, has stated on many occasions that the Holocaust was just an insignificant detail of the Second World War. Like her aunt Marine, who leads National Rally, Marion is a vicious Islamophobe.

“We have already seen a growth in anti-Muslim sentiment that fascist groups have organised around. This leads directly to violent attacks. The monitoring group 'Tell Mama' noted a surge in Islamophobic attacks, with 1,201 in 2017, a rise of 26 per cent on the year before. Of the victims six out of 10 were women."

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City Councillor Tom Hayes tweeted: “In the last few months, Oxford Union have invited proponents of hate into Oxford to vent their prejudices. The Union must cancel its invite and stop endangering our community safety.”

Mr Hayes has also written to the Union calling on them to revoke the invitation.

Fellow councillor Shaista Aziz, who is also a national equalities campaigner working on hate crime, added: “It should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone that the Oxford Union has decided to pull another disgraceful stunt by inviting a far right extremist to speak in our city.

“Two months on from Steve Bannon’s invite and swastikas appearing on the wall of a community centre in our city and police investigating two men for carrying out Nazi salutes outside the Union, we have this latest disgrace.

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"The University and the Union has always existed in its elite bubble, disconnected from the rest of the city, and its this disconnection that allows it immense privilege and to shirk its responsibility to the wider safety of the residents of Oxford, many of whom face increased levels of open racism and bigotry due to the ugly political climate in the country.”

Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran declined to comment.

READ MORE: 'Nazi-linked' leader in Oxford: Moran backs 'open debate'