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article imageFrench politicians unite against bullfighting

By Johnny Summerton     Jun 10, 2010 in World
Two French politicians from opposing parties are to present a bill to parliament outlawing bullfighting in France. They already have the support of a dozen other parliamentarians from across the political spectrum.
On Wednesday Muriel Marland-Militello from the ruling centre-right Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (Union for a Popular Movement, UMP), and Geneviève Gaillard, from the opposition Socialist party, held a joint press conference in what the left-of-centre daily Libération said was "a rare show of cross-party solidarity."
"It's a battle supported by a large majority of the French," maintained Marland-Militello.
"We both want to show that there are times when it's possible to overcome political divisions for noble causes."
Marland-Militello and Gaillard have joined forces to stop what they call "barbaric spectacles" and they want a law to be passed which would ban corridas and cockfighting, making both practices punishable with a maximum two-year prison sentence and €30,000 fine.
Marland-Militello has tried once before in 2004 to have a bill introduced to ban bullfighting, but it failed and some of her fellow UMP colleagues, supporters of the practice, wanted her expelled from the party, according to the weekly news magazine, Le Point.
The new bill has been co-signed by 12 other parliamentarians from across the political spectrum, including UMP member Jean-Marc Roubaud from the département of Gard which has a long history of bullfighting.
"Bullfighting is an anachronism," Roubaud is quoted in the magazine as saying.
"In an already extremely violent world, simply adding to the brutality is shameful."
Bullfighting in France is confined to the south of the country with around 75 towns and villages organising corridas every year, according to Le Point.
The best known are in the towns of Nîmes, Arles, Béziers, Bayonne and Dax, says the magazine, with supporters insisting that both history and economics play an important part in maintaining the tradition.
Although cockfighting is a crime in most of the country, there is a loophole in the law which allows it in areas where it has remained an "uninterrupted tradition" such as in the Nord-Pas de Calais region of northern France.
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