Tens of thousands of people demonstrate against the far right in France – –

Tens of thousands of people demonstrate against the far right in France – –

Paris (AFP)

Tens of thousands of people across France marched on Saturday against “infringements of freedoms” and what organizers said was a growing influence of far-right ideas ahead of next year’s presidential elections.

Members of more than 100 left-wing organizations took part in the “Freedom March” in towns and villages across the country.

The protests were the first opportunity for a divided left to take to the streets after a year and a half of Covid-19 restrictions.

Organizers reported 70,000 participants in Paris and 150,000 nationwide, while Paris police and the Interior Ministry estimated the figures at 9,000 in the capital and 37,000 nationwide.

The Home Office said 119 rallies took place.

In Nantes, in western France, around 900 people gathered, according to the local prefecture, including dozens of far-left activists who clashed with the police.

In the Mediterranean port of Marseille, more than a thousand demonstrators marched behind a CGT union banner calling for “unity to break capitalism which leads to fascism”.

Protesters spoke out against issues ranging from recent legislation they say violates freedoms, such as a law that could lead to prosecutions for posting images of police officers in action, to what they accuse of being a slide of far-right ideas into the mainstream before the next election of the year.

In the southern city of Toulouse, a 54-year-old teacher and union activist who gave his name as Gauthier noticed that students had started to challenge him and warned that “far-right ideas are gaining ground”.

Far-right ideas “are no longer the monopoly of far-right parties and (…) have now largely penetrated the political class,” said Benoit Hamon, the socialist presidential candidate in 2017.

In Paris, the far left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon had flour thrown in his face while addressing journalists.

A suspect arrested later in the day claimed to be a “sovereignist” who, according to social media experts, posted far-right comments on YouTube.

The ruling against Melenchon, who was accused of fueling conspiracy theories ahead of the presidential election, came days after President Emmanuel Macron was slapped in the face as he shook hands with people during a regional visit.

Other events that have recently raised concerns in France include allegations of links between far-left figures including Melenchon and Islamists, a YouTube video faking the execution of an activist from his France Unbowed party and rallies academics to which Caucasian participants would not have been allowed. speak.

Jordan Bardella, vice-chairman of the far-right Rassemblement National (RN) party, dismissed the protests on Saturday as an attempt to distract from Melenchon’s comments on terrorism and the 2022 presidential election.

Groups that participated included socialists, communists, environmentalists and trade unions.

burs-yad / wai / pb


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