Manuel Valls, who clashed with France’s education minister over his support for mayors who have banned full-body swimsuits from beaches, gave a rousing speech on Monday night in which he hailed the bare breasts of Marianne, a national symbol of the French Republic.
“Marianne has a naked breast because she is feeding the people! She is not veiled, because she is free! That is the republic!” he thundered at a government rally.
The inference that bare breasts were a symbol of France while the Muslim headscarf was problematic sparked scorn from politicians and derision from historians and feminists.