Anti-Racism Activists Beaten at Far-Right Rally

French candidate holds first campaign event, drawing demonstrators
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 5, 2021 1:00 PM CST
Anti-Racism Activists Beaten at Far-Right Rally
Supporters of French far-right presidential candidate Eric Zemmour wave posters and French flags during the candidate's first rally on Sunday in Villepinte.   (AP Photo/Rafael Yaghobzadeh)

(Newser) – Anti-racism activists were beaten up Sunday as far-right former French TV pundit Eric Zemmour held his first presidential campaign rally near Paris, a few days after he formally declared his candidacy in a video highlighting his anti-migrant and anti-Islam views. Zemmour has drawn comparisons in France to Donald Trump because of his rabble-rousing populism and ambitions of making the jump from the small screen to national leadership in France's presidential election in April, the AP reports. The 63-year-old with multiple hate-speech convictions unveiled his campaign's slogan: "Impossible is not French," a quote attributed to Napoleon.

"What's at stake is huge," Zemmour said. "If I win that election, it won’t be one more (political) changeover, but the beginning of the reconquest of the most beautiful country in the world." Supporters at the rally sang France’s national anthem, shouted "Zemmour, president!" and "We will win!" while brandishing the tricolor French flag. AP reporters saw some activists dressed in black with "No to racism" on their sweaters being beaten up by people at the rally and brutally taken out of the room. The scuffles continued outside the room between anti-racism activists and security guards.

Reporters from a French television show covering politics were booed and insulted by Zemmour's supporters ahead of his speech, leading them to be briefly escorted outside the room by security guards. They came back soon afterward, but Zemmour harshly criticized the media in his speech. "My adversaries want my political death, journalists want my social death, and jihadists want my death," he said. In the Paris neighborhood of Barbes, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets Sunday, marching behind a banner reading "Paris will silence the far-right."

(Read more France stories.)

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