PARIS (Reuters) - France's ruling Socialists rushed to condemn an aging former minister from among their ranks on Monday after he suggested Prime Minister Manuel Valls was probably acting under Jewish "influence".
Valls has been vocal in his defense of Jews in France, both before and after the January Islamist attacks that killed 17 people, including four Jews.
Roland Dumas, 92, who twice served as foreign minister under Francois Mitterrand, criticized Valls, saying the prime minister "has personal alliances that mean he has prejudices."
"Everyone knows he is married to someone really good but who has an influence on him," Dumas told BFM-TV, without mentioning the name of Valls' Jewish wife, a violinist.
Pressed to answer the question "Is he under a Jewish influence?" Dumas responded, "Probably, I would think so."
In a statement, the Socialist party said Dumas' statements were "unworthy of a Socialist decorated by the Republic".
Asked to comment, Valls told reporters he would be "sullied" were he to respond, but said Dumas was "a man with a known past and his remarks which have done no credit to the Republic for a long time."
Dumas is known for controversial comments, such as denying the official account of the attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001.
On Monday, following the weekend attacks in Copenhagen which targeted a synagogue and free-speech event, Valls underscored the need for high security in France to defend against what he called "Islamo-fascism."
He called upon Jews to remain in France, promising the "strongest possible" legal response after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called anew upon European Jews to emigrate to Israel after the Copenhagen attacks.
Reporting By Alexandria Sage; editing by Mark John