Was Colombe, a volunteer at Restos du coeur, ousted from the association after her participation in an RN meeting? – Liberation

Was Colombe, a volunteer at Restos du coeur, ousted from the association after her participation in an RN meeting? – Liberation
Was Colombe, a volunteer at Restos du coeur, ousted from the association after her participation in an RN meeting? – Liberation

On May 1, the sixty-year-old recounted in front of the cameras her difficulties in finding a job, on the sidelines of a Jordan Bardella meeting in Perpignan. According to the association, which denies having excluded it, it would have contravened the charter of neutrality.

“We are in a crazy world, and we absolutely have to find a solution. I’m on the RSA and we’re having a hard time living. We are all angry.” A volunteer at Restos du coeur in the Pyrénées-Orientales department, Colombe is a sixty-year-old looking for work. On May 1 in Perpignan, at the entrance to the meeting of head of the RN list Jordan Bardella for the European election campaign, https://twitter.com/PaulLarrouturou/status/1785648403210182758. On the Internet, the video goes viral, more than 5 million views. The woman talks about her commitment to the association: “Today, I can’t find a job, but I volunteer at Restos du coeur.”

The next day, her testimony was taken up by Marine Le Pen, who tweeted: “When certain days the political battle seems difficult to us, it will be enough to think of Colombe. She will always remind us what and who we are fighting for.” On the left too, the woman’s words provoke a reaction. Léon Deffontaines, head of the PCF list for the next European elections, sent him a letter on X accompanied by this text: “Colombe’s words struck me. I decided to write to her to start a dialogue with her. To demonstrate to him that Mr. Bardella and the RN are forgers of the social question and that the left that I represent hears his legitimate anger and wants to respond to it.

“Push towards the exit”?

But this Monday, May 6, Colombe is no longer a volunteer at Restos du coeur. By joining the association, members undertake to fully respect a charter. Its article 5 asks volunteers “complete independence from politics and religion”. By evoking his commitment in the context of a political meeting, Colombe would have deviated from this rule. In a press release, his lawyer, Me Jérémy Kalfon, https://twitter.com/PaulLarrouturou/status/1787354103951262138/photo/1 “to have committed any fault”, not having “no active political activity and in no way, in his remarks, associated the image of the Restos du coeur with the positions or action of the National Rally”. He assures that Colombe would have resigned “unwillingly” after a local official allegedly told him on Friday May 3 “the instruction of [le faire] following his remarks on May 1. For him, she was “push towards the exit”.

Among RN supporters, reactions were not long in coming. On X, the spokesperson for the far-right party, Sébastien Chenu, denounces: “While there is a shortage of volunteers in this country, the Restos du coeur find nothing else to do than to part with a long-time volunteer, who helps people in need, for pure reasons. sectarianism.” Same spirit with MEP Gilbert Collard who describes the association as “sectarian of the heart”. Through her lawyer, Colombe made her statement known “wishes to continue his associative activity and not to become a political symbol”.

“We have no intention of being exploited”

In Le FigaroYves Mérillon, national spokesperson for Restos du coeur, assures that the sixty-year-old would have decided to leave on her own. “He was reminded of a principle that is non-negotiable, that is political neutrality. We also remind our volunteers when they are candidates for elections, they do not have the right to report on their volunteering. We have no intention of being exploited by anyone.” he says.

Contacted by Release, the spokesperson did not wish to communicate further, nor did the managers of the Perpignan branch. This Monday, May 6, a national manager of the association reiterates to TF1: “We just gave him a point of order. […] Maybe she felt pushed out. And so she left. There is a procedure for excluding volunteers which has not been initiated at all.”

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