It has been reported that prominent French businessman and former politician Bernard Tapie was attacked in his home by four assailants, three of whom are reportedly African, and one of North-African origin. Tapie, the former owner of Adidas and other high-profile businesses, was asleep in his Parisian mansion when the attackers struck, resulting in both he and his wife being tied up with electrical cords tortured by the assailants who demanded to know where the couple’s valuables are hidden. The 78-year-old tycoon, who is also undergoing cancer treatment, has received a blow to the head with a baton. The home invaders have made off with jewelry, watches and some mobile phones. Tapie’s wife Dominique was also assaulted but eventually escaped and alerted police.
While most French public figures have expressed their sympathies with the victims, one of them chose to do so while also reminding Tapie of his past stances on migration. Jean Messiha, an Egyptian-born French economist and politician and a former member of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, also wished with Tapie a “good recovery” but at the same time pointed out the correlation between Tapie’s past criticism of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s migration stances and the fact that he was attacked by four criminals with a migration background:
“Bernard Tapie’s 4 attackers included ‘3 Africans and 1 of the North African type’. The same Bernard Tapie who accused Jean-Marie Le Pen of lies about the link between the absence of security and migratory invasion. Today reality has caught up with him. Good recovery!”
Les agresseurs de Bernard Tapie sont 4 dont « 3 Africains et 1 de type Nord-Africain ».
Le même #BernardTapie qui accusait Jean-Marie Le Pen @lepenjm de mensonges sur le lien entre insécurité et invasion migratoire.
Il est aujourd’hui rattrapé par la réalité.
Bon rétablissement ! pic.twitter.com/sadBQ2EUEK
— Jean MESSIHA (@JeanMessiha) April 4, 2021
Tapie, who in 1992 served shortly as a minister of city affairs in Socialist Prime Minister Pierre Bérégovoy’s government, has in the past criticized the leader of the French right-wing political party National Front (since renamed National Rally), and its previous leader Jean-Marie Le Pen for the party’s tough stances on immigration. Le Pen’s daughter, Marine Le Pen, who leads the National Front’s successor party, expressed her sympathies towards Tapie and his wife.
“We can only sympathize with Bernard Tapie and his wife who were victims of burglary with kidnapping. These acts, which have exploded higher in France, are traumas for those who undergo them in their privacy,” wrote Marine Le Pen.
On ne peut que compatir face au cambriolage avec séquestration dont ont été victimes Bernard Tapie et sa femme.
Ces actes, qui explosent en France, sont des traumatismes pour ceux qui les subissent, dans leur intimité. MLP
— Marine Le Pen (@MLP_officiel) April 4, 2021
Le Pen’s last sentence is likely a veiled reference to the reality that what the businessman and his wife have gone through is part of a wider phenomenon experienced by many in France. Le Pen, who is currently a favorite to win the French national elections in April 2022, is a vocal critic of France’s flawed immigration policies and the explosion in crime and terrorist incidents that she regards as a direct consequence of these policy decisions.
The son of Bernard Tapie, Stéphane, condemned Jean Messiha’s comments about the home invasion his father experienced, calling them “repulsive” during a TV interview. He also called those who have spoken out about the possible connections between immigrants and the attack on his parents “idiots”. During the interview, the reporter had pointed out that Tapie had always refused to make a link between crime and immigration. In his reply, Stéphane Tapie had referred to the fact that Jean Messiha himself is of foreign origin.
Bernard Tapie, who rose from humble origins to national prominence, is himself no stranger to controversy. He made his fortune by buying up failing companies and selling them off for a profit, often through dubious circumstances. He is the past owner of the famous Olympique de Marseille football club, which won the French championship under his patronage. However, Tapie was subsequently accused of fixing football matches and was forced to end his role in the sport. He had spent a short stint of five months in prison on corruption convictions and on his release was banned from standing for public office.
His biggest controversy came with the sale of the sports accessories company Adidas by the bank Credit Lyonnais, which Tapie claimed to have undervalued the company and sold without his consent. He was awarded a settlement of €400 million but was later told to pay back the whole sum with interest. Then Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, who is currently heading the European Central Bank, was also implicated in the judgement and was convicted of negligence in the case.