Robert Ménard (born 6 July 1953) is a French politician and former journalist serving as Mayor of Béziers since 2014. A founder of the Paris-based international non-governmental organisation Reporters Without Borders, he was its general-secretary from 1985 to 2008. He subsequently participated in the launch of the information website Boulevard Voltaire in 2012. An Independent since 1981, Ménard joined the Les Amoureux de la France alliance in 2017.
Ménard in 2015
|Mayor of Béziers|
|Assumed office |
4 April 2014
|Preceded by||Raymond Couderc|
|Born||6 July 1953|
Oran, French Algeria
|Political party||Independent (since 1981)|
|Revolutionary Communist League (1973–1979)|
Socialist Party (1979–1981)
|Alma mater||University of Montpellier|
Family and educationEdit
Ménard comes from a Catholic French Pied-Noir family which settled in Algeria in the 1850s. Around the time of the Independence of Algeria and when he was nine years old, the family moved to Brusque, Aveyron. He studied religion, and planned on becoming a priest.
Ménard's wife, Emmanuelle Ménard (née Duverger), was elected to the National Assembly in the 2017 legislative election as the member for Hérault's 6th constituency. He has one daughter with her and two children from previous relationships.
In 2013, he announced he would be a candidate for the position of Mayor of Béziers in the 2014 municipal elections. He launched his campaign with the support of the sovereigntist right-wing party Debout la République. Ménard subsequently welcomed the support of the National Front, which endorsed him as its candidate although he was not a member. His move to the far-right attracted media attention. He described himself publicly as a "reactionary", supporting the reintroduction of the death penalty and objecting to the legalisation of gay marriage in May 2013. He was elected Mayor of Béziers on 30 March in the second round with 47% of the vote.
In May 2015, Ménard violated French law by attempting to record the religion of schoolchildren in his city, claiming that 64.9% were Muslim, based on their first names. In September, he visited a refugee complex to tell them that they were not welcome in France, and two months later he declared that no more kebab restaurants would open in Béziers.
In March 2018, he announced he would seek a second term in the 2020 municipal elections, running once again as an Independent because of disagreements he has with certain policies promoted by the National Front. In May 2018, Ménard was physically attacked and pushed to the ground while visiting Saint-André-de-Cubzac, Gironde to attend a conference, by what he himself called "left-wing fascists". The author of the push was later convicted to a suspended prison sentence of four months.
In 1975, Ménard created the pirate radio station Radio Pomarède and became president of the Association pour la libération des ondes (Association for the liberation of the airwaves). He consequently became the target of many lawsuits, in one of which, François Mitterrand, later President of the French Republic gave a character reference. He later created the free magazine Le Petit biterrois but had to close it down due to a lack of advertisers. In 1985 he co-founded Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans Frontières).
A Rue89 post claims Ménard became the focus of significant controversy after an interview with France Culture in which in response to a question about the case of the kidnapped journalist Daniel Pearl he made a statement which some have interpreted as saying that the use of torture could be justified in some circumstances. On 24 March 2008 Ménard and two other members of Reporters Without Borders were arrested for attempting to disrupt the lighting of the Olympic Flame prior to the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. The disruption was aimed at protesting the crackdown on Tibetan civil rights activities by the Government of the People's Republic of China.
Ménard resigned from his role as secretary-general of RWB in September 2008 and became director-general of the Doha Center for Media Freedom in Qatar which opened in October 2008. Ménard resigned as director-general in June 2009, complaining of obstruction by officials of the Government of Qatar of the Center's work (notably its criticism of Qatar's restrictive media policies, along with the Center's efforts to bring several persecuted journalists to Qatar for temporary refuge), despite earlier assurances that it would be allowed to operate freely.
On 1 October 2012, he founded, along with Dominique Jamet, the conservative news website Boulevard Voltaire.
Ménard has supported the Great Replacement conspiracy theory. Speaking of the demographics of school children in France, La Croix covered his statement that in one classroom at a school near his home 91% of pupils were "Muslim children", claiming that "obviously it is a problem". Ménard declared that it was "proof of the Great Replacement in progress" in France. He was convicted of "incitement to hatred and discrimination" and ordered to pay €2,000.
- Ménard, Robert (1990). Club des 500 : les 500 qui font le Languedoc-Roussillon. Montpellier: Éditions ensoleillées-Intelligence Média. OCLC 463753984.
- Faes, Géraldine; Ménard, Robert (2001). Ces journalistes que l'on veut faire taire : l'étonnante aventure de Reporters sans frontières. Paris: Albin Michel. ISBN 9782226122131. OCLC 301652528.
- Duverger, Emmanuelle; Ménard, Robert (2003). La censure des bien-pensants. Paris: Albin Michel. ISBN 9782226136145. OCLC 51517129.
- Ménard, Robert (2008). Les jeux de la honte : Pourquoi il faut boycotter la cérémonie d'ouverture des JO de Pékin. Paris: Le Cherche midi.
- Ménard, Robert (2008). Des libertés et autres chinoiseries : de Reporters sans frontières aux JO de Pékin. Paris: Robert Laffont. ISBN 9782221111642. OCLC 471018628.
- Lévy, Elisabeth; Ménard, Robert (2009). Les Français sont-ils antisémites ?. Paris: Editions Mordicus. ISBN 9782918414162. OCLC 463623557.
- Ménard, Robert; Steiner, Thierry (2010). Mirages et cheikhs en blanc : enquête sur la face cachée du Qatar, le coffre-fort de la France. Paris: Editions du Moment. ISBN 9782354170738. OCLC 527339723.
- Duverger, Emmanuelle; Ménard, Robert (2011). Vive Le Pen !. Paris: Éditions Mordicus. ISBN 9782918414278. OCLC 721534013.
- Ménard, Robert; Rolando, Thierry (2012). Vive l'Algérie française !. Paris: Éd. Mordicus. ISBN 9782918414537. OCLC 805044093.
- Ménard, Robert (2016). Abécédaire de la France qui ne veut pas mourir. Paris: Éditions Pierre-Guillaume de Roux.
- "Robert Ménard, porte-flambeau de la dédiabolisation du FN", Le Monde, 21 June 2013
- "French Voters Shift to the Right in Mayoral Elections". International Herald Tribune. 2014-03-31. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
- Kizil, Nurbanu (2 November 2015). "Islamophobic French mayor declares war on kebabs, says he will not allow more kebab restaurants to be opened". Daily Sabah. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
- Municipales 2020 : Robert Ménard vexe Louis Aliot en se représentant à Béziers sans le FN (in French). HuffPost, 23 March 2018.
- Robert Ménard attaqué par des "fascistes de gauche" (in French). L'Express, 5 May 2018.
- Jean-Noël Darde, Quand Robert Ménard, de RSF, légitime la torture, Rue 89, 26 August 2007 (in French)
- "Reporters Without Borders demonstrates in Olympia at start of Olympic torch relay to Beijing". Archived from the original on 2008-03-25. Retrieved 2008-03-24.
- "Robert Ménard "se passera très bien des médias"". Le Figaro (in French). 2008-09-26. Archived from the original on 2008-12-24. Retrieved 2008-12-24.
- "Organes de gouvernance" (in French). Doha Center for Media Freedom. 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-12-24. Retrieved 2008-12-23.
- "Media Safety - Qatar: Doha Centre for Media Freedom launched". International News Safety Institute / BBC Monitoring. 2008-10-18. Archived from the original on 2013-01-30. Retrieved 2008-12-23.
- "Robert Ménard and staff leave Doha Centre For Media Freedom". rsf.org. 23 June 2009. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
- "Robert Ménard condemned after his remarks on the "great replacement" in schools". La Croix. 25 April 2017.
- "Robert Ménard condemned after comments about "Muslim" students in his city and the "big replacement"". Libération. 25 April 2017.