Gay mayor is Al-Qaeda target
The Socialist mayor of Paris has been given increased police protection after US security services informed their French counterparts that he might be attacked by terrorists.
While monitoring internet traffic related to Al-Qaeda the CIA discovered that Bertrand Delanoe was listed as a target.
As mayor of France’s biggest city, he is the most prominent gay politician in the country.
“I am calm. I have the information I need and I have complete confidence in the work of police headquarters vis-a-vis security problems in general, terrorism in particular and finally the protection of the mayor of Paris,” Mr Delanoe said on TV station iTele.
A police spokesman confirmed that the mayor was being given more security and stressed that the threat did not come directly from the terrorist organisation.
Mr Delanoe is running for a second seven-year term as mayor of Paris in March and he is viewed as a potential 2012 presidential candidate for the Socialists.
He enjoys solid approval ratings in the French capital following the success of various pet projects he pushed through a troublesome Green/Socialist alliance at city hall.
Despite his party’s defeat to Nicolas Sarkozy in last year’s parliamentary elections, the Socialists made significant gains in Paris, winning 13 out of 21 districts.
This result sparked rumours of a future presidential bid.
Mr Delanoe’s ‘Paris Plage’ project, in which he oversaw the creation of a man-made beach on the banks of the Seine, was an unexpected success and continues to draw substantial crowds in the summer months.
His attempted assassination in October 2002 did no harm to his popularity either.
Mr Delanoe was stabbed during the ‘Nuit Blanche’ Parisian festival while socialising with the crowds.
His assailant, Azedine Berkane, reportedly told police: “he hated politicians, the Socialist Party, and the homosexuals.”
Before being taken to hospital the Mayor ordered that festivities continued.
Paris became the world’s second largest city with an openly gay mayor, after Berlin, following its election of Mr Delanoe.
Mr Delanoe famously announced his sexuality in a television interview in 1998, before becoming mayor.