Many thanks to Gary Fouse for translating this article from the public radio network France Bleu:
“I am secular and a Republican,” says the elected official in Valence, Adem Benchelloug, accused of ties with the Muslim Brotherhood
The Journal du Dimanche reveals an internal note within Drome [geographical department in France] Territorial Intelligence. According to this document, Adem Benchelloug, a municipal councilor and vice president of the agglomeration of communities, is reportedly close to the Muslim Brotherhood. The Valence elected official says he is wounded, and refutes the allegations.
France Bleu — Drome Ardeche
by Nathalie De Keyzer
January 8, 2023
“I am wounded and bruised.” That is the reaction of Adem Benchelloug after the article published January 7 by Journal du Dimanche. Entitled “In Valence, the shadow of the Muslim Brotherhood”, this article describes the contents of a internal note in the Drome Territorial Intelligence (RT) that was addressed to the Prefect of Drome last August 3. A note in which the RT, according to our colleagues, shared their suspicions about the municipal counselor assigned to the movement of equipment in the quarter of Valence. Adem Benchelloug is also the 13th vice president of the Valence Romans [agglomeration of communities in charge of sports].
“It’s a bunch of assertions without proof”
Contacted Sunday afternoon, the elected official said he was wounded by these allegations. “I am wounded and bruised when I see such accusations, which are founded on nothing.” Adem Benchelloug continues: “It’s a bunch of assertions without proof and allegations without foundation. Territorial intelligence is there to produce intelligence; that’s their role, but let them do it in the correct manner.” The elected official states: “This note brings nothing concrete and reveals nothing because there is nothing to reveal.”
The vice president in charge of sports in the Valence Romans community agglomeration chooses a sports metaphor in responding: “I take the blow,” but he also notes that for him, these allegations are defamation and that he will take the time to respond point by point. He is presented in the note as, “an elected official with a theologically-formatted profile since 2012 within the associations Ouverture and the Plume Institute,” two associations “essential in the Brotherhood theological training in the Drome [department]”, again according to Territorial Intelligence.
Adem Benchelloug admits having taken a course in the Arabic language in the summer of 2010 at the Plume Association, “but I am neither closely nor remotely connected to the Muslim Brotherhood movement. I am no more than an elected, secular Republican, and before being an elected Republican, I was just a young man in the community invested in the associative environment of the secular hearth of Valensolles [district in Valence], therefore, a home for all. I am the pure fruit of the school of the Republic.”
Violent messages on social media
And Adem Benchelloug says he is also affected by the particularly aggressive reaction that the article triggered on social media. “When we see the reactions of the fascist sphere calling for actions against me, it affects me, and it makes me fear for my family, for our living well together.”
Nicolas Daragon, the Republican mayor of Valence, also says he is outraged by these revelations. “I am shocked to read of such false accusations that are not founded on any proof.” The mayor, who says he has known his municipal counselor more than fifteen years, was not aware of this RT case, nor of the note to the prefect. Thus, he first raises the question of evidence. “There, based on the fact that a municipal counselor took a foreign language course for one month twelve years ago, they say that he is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood? There is a moment when you should bring evidence when you advance such remarks.”
Even if the elected official knows it, it is the nature for Territorial Intelligence to work with total discretion, and to collect bundles of information without real material evidence, which is extremely complicated to obtain in these types of cases.
Questions from the mayor of Valence
The mayor and president of the agglomeration of Valence Romans resumes his form of questioning: “In this note, it is said that there is an organization that trains jihadists. This organization is still open! Last summer, after having been awakened, the prefect indicated to me that the Muslim school was run by the Muslim Brotherhood. She made her tenth or eleventh return visit. So today, I question: The prefect received this note on August 3, she should alert me, she should not spread it in the media, and she should take measures to ensure internal security and public tranquility, something that as of today is absolutely not the case. And so I question myself as to whom we are really targeting? Is there not a form of settling of scores today?
Settling of scores?
Nicolas Daragon concludes: “Not only is nothing clear, but there are some strange maneuvers that make me think there is a sort of settling of scores. It’s as if certain state representatives whose departures have been announced at this time were saying, ‘After me, the deluge’. So there are some steps that are unworthy. And this note, the fact that it is circulating now when it was addressed last August 3 to the prefect of Drome, puzzles me.”
It must be said that the relations between the mayor of Valence and the prefect of Drome have been strained for six months since the Muslim school affair. Is the mayor implying that Elodie Degiovanni herself might have leaked this note? The mayor’s answer is clear. “Well, it’s either the sender of the note or whoever received it. But it’s one or the other. And given the trustworthiness of relations that we have had for a certain number of months now in Drome, I ask myself. At the least.”
We have contacted the prefect of Drome regarding this attack against her by the mayor. Sticking to her position since the start of the Muslim school affair, she does not wish to comment.
The opposition demands an emergency municipal meeting
One opposition party has already reacted. The ex-LREM [Renaissance Party] municipal counselor, Bruno Casari, and Socialist Florent Mejean, in separate statements, are calling for pretty much the same thing: The withdrawal of the Adem Benchelloug delegations, as well as his resignation and the holding of an emergency municipal meeting.
“I am the pure fruit of the school of the Republic.”
Mmkay. Then he doesn’t get any votes and support from those who aren’t of the same spirit, q.e.d.