The Right-wing mayor of Nice has been accused of “stigmatising” the southern French town’s Muslim population after passing a decree on “noisy” town hall weddings, in particular cheering, whistling and foreign flag-waving, which he says disturb the peace.
Since June 1, mayor Christian Estrosi, who belongs to the UMP party of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, has outlawed “whistling”, deploying “flags, notably foreign ones”, the presence of “unauthorised” folk music groups, illegal parking around the town hall or holding up traffic to “dance” or “parade with banners or flags”.
He said such behaviour was “liable to disturb the peace and solemnity of the moment” and could create “unfair delays in the proper running of weddings”. Any wedding parties failing to abide by the new rules could see their ceremony delayed by up to 24 hours.
Opposition Socialists and rights groups have blasted the measure as a veiled attack against French Muslims whose traditional ululations are a frequent fixture at wedding ceremonies in France. They claim it is blatant anti-immigrant electioneering ahead of this month’s parliamentary elections in a staunchly Right-wing town where the far-Right National Front commands strong support.
Last Saturday, they organised a protest “silent wedding” ceremony in front of the town hall in which a false bride, groom and wedding party brandished banners saying: “Silence, we’re getting married”, their mouths taped shut to drive home the message.