A deputy mayor in France who labeled the government’s proposed immigration bill “shameful” and “disgusting” was hospitalized on Wednesday evening after being brutally attacked by a gang of North African men just meters from her own front door.
Oriane Filhol, the deputy mayor to Mathieu Hanotin of the Socialist Party (PS) in Saint-Denis, was returning home from a work meeting when she was assaulted by several men on the driveway to her home at around 9.30 p.m.
The elected official, who is in charge of solidarity, women’s rights, and fighting against discrimination in her constituency, was “hit violently in the face and body with punches,” indicated a police source to Le Parisien newspaper.
The left-wing politician managed to escape the attack and ran on foot to a friend’s house located a few streets away but was reportedly chased by the attackers who dealt further blows before fleeing in a getaway vehicle.
A police source, cited by Le Figaro newspaper, reported the men as being of “North African” appearance who had “their faces hidden behind a surgical mask and hooded”.
The victim was taken to Saint-Denis Hospital for treatment but is understood to have since been discharged and filed a police complaint.
An investigation is being led by the Bobigny public prosecutor’s office which confirmed that it is considering charges for “violence resulting in a total incapacity for work of more than eight days by a person hiding their face, on a person entrusted with a public service mission”.
At the time of writing, no arrests in connection with the incident had been made.
“The exact reasons seem to be closely linked to her commitment as an elected official,” read a press release by Saint-Denis town hall on Thursday.
“The commitment of the elected representatives of Saint-Denis to carry out their mandate is total. Nothing will turn back their determination. The perpetrators of this cowardly attack must be apprehended as quickly as possible and punished by the courts,” it added.
Several politicians from across the political spectrum expressed their solidarity with Filhol following the attack, including her superior, Mathieu Hanotin, who arranged a rally in the town square on Friday at 6.30 p.m. for those wishing “to stand together in the face of this unspeakable violence”.
In her latest social media post, Filhol criticized the French government’s immigration bill which was passed with the support of right-wing parties earlier this week and imposes some restrictions on migrant rights including their entitlement to social welfare.
“While, from our local authorities, we do everything in our power to support families and promote their already difficult access to rights, now the Government and its allies are rolling back these rights with the immigration bill. The shame, the disgust,” she wrote.