French police shot and killed a man waving a gun and giving Nazi greetings in the city of Avignon just hours after a terrorist attack on a church in Nice killed three people.
French newspapers report that a man who brandished a gun and made Nazi greetings in the southern city of Avignon was a member of the far-right Generation Identity movement.
The man, still unknown, was shot dead by police after efforts to disarm him failed and it is also unclear whether he intended to kill anyone.
Thursday’s incident came shortly after an attack near a church in Nice by a Tunisian-born assailant that left three people dead, two of whom were killed by beheading.
Members of Generation Identity, known as Identitaires, have seized on recent religious tensions and acts of violence in France to advance their white nationalist agenda.
Despite being founded in 2003, the group has established itself in recent years, especially since the refugee crisis sparked by the Syrian war gained momentum in 2015.
The group has members all over Europe, but is particularly dominant in the French far-right scene, where it finds its intellectual roots in the post-war order.
“They are just another part of the far-right nebula in France,” said French civil liberties activist Yasser Louati, adding: “The rhetoric they convey is not exclusive to them, namely that the nation must be purified. “
Other far-right groups exist in France, including the National Rassemblement party led by Marine Le Pen, formerly known as the National Front.
These older and more established groups have invested in the political process with considerable success.
Le Pen toured the presidential ballot in the 2017 French elections, obtaining a third of all votes cast.
What separates the identitarians from their cousins at the National Rally is the extremity of their ideology and their desire to act directly.
The crux of identity ideology is that white European civilization must be protected against “infiltration” by non-European and non-white races.
For believers, the main manifestation of this threat is the religion of Islam and its adherents.
The movement believes in the conspiracy theory known as the ‘Great Replacement’, which argues that non-white races are slowly encouraged to migrate to Europe in order to breed and eventually displace native European populations.
In most interpretations of the conspiracy, the plan would have been concocted by the Jewish people.
To this end, members of Génération Identité took part in activities, such as patrolling the alpine valleys bordering Italy, to ensure that migrants cannot cross into France, even using helicopters to the opportunity.
The movement has also hired ships in the Mediterranean to prevent migrants from trying to cross Europe and return them to the Libyan coast.
As Louati mentions, there are also barely concealed violent connotations.
The group has frequently been recorded for organizing training camps for far-right activists, in which members learn hand-to-hand combat techniques.
Brenton Tarrant, the Christchurch terrorist, also drew on the group’s teachings. So much so that he made a personal donation of 1,500 euros ($ 1,750) to the movement through a prominent member of the group, Martin Sellner, and even had plans for a beer with the man. .
For Louati, and many others, there is no doubt that preparation for impending violence is a fundamental principle of group justification.
“Even if they don’t say it, (they believe) a civil war is necessary,” he said.
Evidence of this violent intention was exposed after the terrorist attack in Nice on Thursday in a Telegram group led by identity leader Damien Rieu.
“(Rieu) opened a channel on Telegram, in which one person made it clear that he wanted to attack a mosque… and there wouldn’t be two or three dead,” Louati said.
“What another member of this Telegram channel says” don’t post this here “… Instead of condemning the (proposed) attack, it was about keeping it low. “
According to Louati, instead of making the war against the far right a priority, the French government has done little to tackle the threat. Rather, he warns that French President Emmanuel Macron’s adoption of far-right talking points has imbued Indentitarians with a sense of impunity.
The turn to the right could be a simple electoral election, to withdraw votes from Le Pen as the 2022 elections approach.
However, by bending to the far right, French politicians could end up emboldening its more extreme elements.
Source: TRT World