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French far-right 'barred' from national unity rally

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Marine Le Pen, furious, after her party was not invited to Sunday's Republican rally. Photo: AFP
20:48 CET+01:00
Despite the French president calling for “unity” in the light of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, an almighty row broke out on Thursday after the National Front were not invited to Sunday's Republican rally.

France’s politicians were not able to show their new found unity for long.

Just a day after the Charlie Hebdo shooting left 12 dead and had politicians calling for the country to unite, a row between politicians broke out after the National Front were not invited to take part in Sunday’s rally for “national unity” in Paris.

For her part Marine Le Pen was furious that the party, who came out on top in the European elections last May, was “excluded” from the march.

“It is very clear,” Le Pen said. “They say that the Front National (FN) are not welcome to a meeting where every other party is invited. There is no longer national unity, it’s disappeared because of their actions.”

The party also fired out a tweet saying: “"The first party of France excluded from the demonstration! It's a moral fault.”

The rally is expected to see François Hollande line up alongside his old adversary Nicolas Sarkozy at the head of the March and will see politicians and elected officials from all mainstream parties, at least take to the streets.

Some however believe it’s a mistake that the Front National have not been invited, even if the party is known for anti-immigration views and its desire to resist the influence of Islam in France.

Former Prime Minister François Fillon said: “"Our best response is the total unity of the country. We can't have any dissenting voices.”

His UMP party were opposed to the exclusion of the National Front, as were many others.

“It’s a mistake, we should unite everyone and not judge people by their political colours,” Imam Farid Darrouf told The Guardian newspaper. “Everyone should participate to say no to this barbarism. Division can only feed the fanatics.”

François Lamy from the ruling Socialist Party explained why The National Front has not been invited to take part.

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“We are inviting all political forces, republican and democratic... We are not inviting organisations that divide the country, stigmatise our fellow Muslims and play on their their fears,” Lamy told Le Monde.

National Front members are still of course entitled to attend, whether they will or not remains to be seen.

What is certain is that tens of thousands of French people are expected to march on Sunday in the name of unity, even their political leaders have been unable to show it.

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