It has been more than four months since she said a word about the storm she went through after the broadcast of a survey of “Forbidden Zone”, “Faced with the danger of radical Islam, the responses of the ‘State’, on January 23, on M6. A documentary on fundamentalism in Roubaix, but also in Marseille, Lyon and Bobigny, where images of faceless dolls set fire to the powder in the middle of the presidential campaign. The report is accused of caricaturing the city of Hauts-de-France, some of the protagonists and Islam. Ophélie Meunier, who presents the show, is threatened with death and then placed under police protection less than a week later. On social networks, in the media, political recovery is in full swing. Éric Zemmour, who points to the “habits and customs of totalitarian Afghanistan”, recommends seeing the report. The Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, ensures that all means are deployed to ensure that the perpetrators of the threats are found. In the cacophony, you can barely hear director Michaëlle Gagnet claiming the right to “denounce a dangerous ideology without being accused of Islamophobia”.

Read also >> “Ophélie Meunier threatened: our freedoms in danger”

As for Ophelia, months have passed. She arrives, slender silhouette, neat dress, well-mannered smile (years of dancing, it gives structure). In appearance, nothing transpires from this case. Up close, we only have eyes for its velvety skin texture. His “good complexion” side? Precisely, she would like to qualify this image of “wise young girl”, polished by years of TV: on Canal +, then on M6, where she presents the essential “Forbidden Zone” and, occasionally, the JT. She is also at the helm of RTL’s famous “Unexpected Journal”, a less framed exercise where she can show more who she is. Like many presenters, Ophélie Meunier wonders about the gap between her well-groomed image and her more spontaneous, contrasting personality. How to combine the two? The subject seems light in view of the last few months. Like a preamble or a way of regaining control of destiny: all is well, life is on its way. Ophelia knows she is expected. All the more reason to surprise.

“In presenting this report, I am convinced that I have done my job”

SHE. How have you lived these last months?

Ophelie Meunier. It was a strange, peculiar experience. In the end, everything is fine. What I would like to say is that at all stages of this story, whether before, during, at the height of the matter, or today, when all that is behind me, by presenting this report, I am convinced that I have done my job. I never said to myself: I messed up. What happened is proof that journalism touches on sensitive subjects and that we need to explore them more than ever. Furthermore, I was very touched by the support I received, publicly or privately. Many media came forward, like ELLE. I already knew it, but I realized even more that it happened to others before me and that it will happen again.

SHE. Lawyer Richard Malka fears that we end up no longer dealing with this kind of subject, by looking away…

OM This is why we must continue to do our job, to exercise our freedom to inform.

SHE. You have received death threats, requiring police protection. It seems crazy…

OM Yes, finally, the trial of the Bataclan attacks is taking place at the moment and it is disproportionate to what happened to me.

SHE. You were afraid ?

OM Let’s say that everything was new, I went through states where I had to learn as I progressed. Learning to digest the violence of insults and threats… I was accompanied, surrounded, protected, which helped me get through this period as well as possible. Today, I’m fine, I have no after-effects from all that. We communicated a lot with my family, my parents, my brothers and sisters… Honestly, no one wants to go through this and I don’t wish it on anyone, but there is much more serious, we must continue to move forward. before. Including on these topics.

SHE. Have you filed a complaint?

OM Yes. There was an investigation, we found some of the perpetrators of the threats. That’s why I repeat: you have to file a complaint.

SHE. Have you regained a normal life?

OM The two months following the broadcast of the report weren’t “normal” but I didn’t prevent myself from living, I didn’t lock myself in, I continued to take my children to the park. Today, I no longer think about it, except from a purely journalistic angle: what bias, if I had to work on this subject again?

SHE. Could that be the case?

OM Yes, if I think the angle is relevant and we have the means to deal with it. The “Forbidden Zone” that we released in January required eighteen months of investigation.

SHE. A colleague, the reporter Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff, was killed in Ukraine, where a team from “Forbidden Zone” had also found itself in danger. What was your reaction ?

OM I was very touched by his disappearance. I think first of all of his family and the families of those who lost their lives in such conditions. Each time we learn of the death of a journalist on the front lines, whatever their nationality, it is the heart of the whole profession that squeezes, and it is hard. Indeed, in March, a “Forbidden Zone” team traveled to Ukraine for several weeks. We are proud of the essential work they do to inform us.

SHE. Another aspect of your personality has helped you get through these past months: you are a believer…

OM I am a believer and a practitioner. It shaped the person I am today. I feel it as an inner strength.

SHE. Concretely, how does this translate?

OM In life, we have dreams, we draw a path, things sometimes happen as we imagined, sometimes not. I believe in God, and I believe that God wants my happiness. If things go as I wished, I feel blessed. Otherwise, because I am going through hardships, I am going through difficult times like everyone else, I draw on this strength to get up. I know that in the end it happened for a good reason and that I will grow out of it. And it makes me feel good to say it.

SHE. We saw it, among others, in the report of “Forbidden Zone”, religions and women’s rights do not always go hand in hand…

OM And that saddens me because, for me, it’s just the opposite. Religion is tolerance, openness to others, not judgment. We are all equal, that’s what I learned, what I remember and what drives me.

SHE. On television, you project the image of someone serious. Too much for you?

OM People may think I’m wiser than I am. I will be fully happy and fulfilled in my profession when I am there as in life. It’s starting to come on the radio, which allows more spontaneity: a burst of laughter, emotion. As for TV, the project remains to be written. I’m thinking about it. No question of letting go of the info but of letting go a little more. However, I take back all my caps at the start of the school year.

SHE. You seem to be opinionated, a legacy of your dancing years?

OM I was in sport-study from sixth to third year, fifteen hours of dancing a week. When you go to class every day and end with two or three hours of training in the evening, you attack the weekend well rinsed! You have to be rigorous, motivated. From these intense years, I have kept the habit of putting in a large number of hours of work.

SHE. And what else ?

OM If there’s one word that defines me, it’s “organized”. I want to be able to do everything. I devote a lot of time to my work. But I also have two children, 3 years old and 7 months old, whom I intend to see grow up. Besides that, I love going out! And then, in a couple, everyone must be able to flourish professionally and personally, we see to it. Believe me, I manage to do everything and I need my seven-eight hours of sleep.

SHE. Is it your good student side?

OM I was very good at school, very serious, my mother never had to open a textbook. But when I announced to my parents at 18, bac in my pocket [bac S, mention très bien, ndlr], that I was going to spend a year in Paris to become a model, they could have been rightly worried. They said “yes” to me because they trusted me. And I can never thank them enough… Rigor, work, confidence, pleasure: this is the axis of life that I have given myself.

SHE. Your years of modeling were a happy period?

OM I have very good memories of it, many trips…

SHE. No bad experiences?

OM No, but I find it essential that women’s voices be freed. I support all those who speak, who express their suffering. Sometimes it’s explosive and that’s good: it has to explode to move forward, to rebuild, to find a new balance, and for us to be able to live with each other. I have never had to suffer violence, I feel all the more lucky and blessed.

SHE. Why did you wait today to express yourself?

OM For weeks, I focused on my priority: daily life. Today, things have calmed down, it’s a good time to coldly analyze what happened: I’m fine, we have to keep confidence.

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