“My image, my international identity, is still associated with France. … I might leave France to spend my last years in Sweden because today I feel far closer to Swedish sensibilities than French insensibilities,” Bardot wrote in an open letter to Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.
The longtime animal rights activist was protesting a move by France to block, by way of the European Union, a Stockholm initiative to improve conditions on Swedish mink farms.
Bardot has been closely associated with the exclusive French yachting resort of St Tropez since she helped put the town on the map in the sixties.
Because of free market regulations within the EU, all proposed animal rights legislation is sent to the Commission, where other EU member states are given three months to examine the material. If no objections are raised, the legislation can be passed by the country concerned.
France objected to the Swedish mink farm proposal on June 14, preventing it from being voted on by the Swedish parliament before its summer recess.
Parliament will reconvene on October 1, after a September general election that may see the current government removed from power. Thus the proposed legislation may never see the light of day.
“I am ashamed by my government’s intervention, ashamed to be French,” Bardot said.
Between 1.3 million and 1.4 million mink are killed in Sweden every year for their fur, according to Swedish animal rights group Djurens Rätt.
Bardot founded the Brigitte Bardot Foundation for the Welfare and Protection of Animals. Quite how far the reclusive actress would feel at home in liberal, Social Democratic Sweden is open to question: her animal rights activism has been accompanied by more controversial forays into far-right politics, and she has been associated with Jean-Marie le Pen’s Front National.
In a book published in 2003, Bardot made a series of anti-gay and anti-Muslim comments. She has referred to the “underground and dangerous infiltration of Islam” in French society, called gay people “fairground freaks”, and objected to the presence of women in government.
Sweden has a tradition of accepting immigrants from the Muslim world and was a pioneer of gay civil partnerships. The country’s parliament is one of few in the world in which around half the members are women. Bardot does not make clear in her statement how close to Swedish sensibilities she feels in these questions.