French movie star Delon in Miss France bust-up

French movie star Alain Delon launched a tirade at the Miss France beauty committee on Friday after members had attacked him for supporting the far-right National Front. Delon then announced he was quitting as honory president of the committee.

French movie star Delon in Miss France bust-up
Alain Delon, pictured with French beauty pageant Marine Lorphelin for the screening of the film "Zulu", has quit Miss France committee over far-right row. Photo: Anne Christine Poujoulat/AFP

French movie star Alain Delon said Friday he was quitting as honorary president of the Miss France beauty contest committee after it berated him for backing the far-right National Front party.

"Your committee thought it was good to react publicly," the 77-year-old actor said in a scathing letter.

"Your diatribe is as absurd as it is narcissistic and obsessive. Your attitude shows contempt for your public, which has a right to vote for who they want," he said in the letter, seen by AFP.

"As a result, I am officially resigning from my post as honorary president for life of the Miss France committee," Delon said.

The veteran star, whose career spans five decades and includes "Rocco and His Brothers" and "The Leopard", had said in an interview to Swiss newspaper Le Matin that the "National Front is taking a very important place and I approve of it, I support it and I understand it very well".

"For years, the Le Pen father and daughter team (Jean-Marie, the founder of the National Front, and Marine, its current leader) have been fighting, but they've been fighting a lonely battle," he said.

"Now, for the first time, they are no longer alone. They have the French people."

That provoked a tongue-lashing from the organisers of the contest, who said Delon had been chosen only because of his acting skills and international stature and distanced themselves from his comments.

It asked jury members as well as contestants not to reveal "their political, religious or ideological" leanings.

The anti-immigration National Front won a key by-election last weekend and is trying to shed its image of a xenophobic party.

On Friday, the party dropped a candidate for municipal elections next year after she compared France's black justice minister to a monkey.

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Tens of thousands march against far-right in France

Tens of thousands of people across France on Saturday marched against "attacks on freedoms" and what organisers said was a growing influence of far-right ideas ahead of next year's presidential elections.

Tens of thousands march against far-right in France
A "Freedom march" called by several organisations, associations and trade unions to "combat extreme right-wing ideas" on June 12. credit: SAMEER AL-DOUMY / AFP

Members of more than 100 left-leaning organisations participated in the “Liberty March” in cities and towns 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.

Organisers reported 70,000 participants in Paris and 150,000 around the nation, while the Paris police and interior ministry put the numbers at 9,000 in the capital and 37,000 nationwide.

The interior ministry said 119 rallies had taken place.

In Nantes, western France, around 900 people rallied, according to the local prefecture, including scores of far-left militants who clashed with police.

In the Mediterranean port of Marseilles, more than a thousand demonstrators marched behind a CGT union banner that called for “unity to break down the capitalism that leads to fascism”.

Protesters vented against issues ranging from recent legislation they say chips away at liberties, such as a law that could see prosecutions for publishing images of police officers in action, to what they charge is a creep of far-right ideas into the mainstream ahead of next year’s elections.

In the southern city of Toulouse, a 54-year-old teacher and union activist who gave his name as Gauthier remarked that students had begun to challenge him and warned that “extreme 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, far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon had flour thrown in his face as he spoke to reporters.

A suspect arrested later in the day claimed to be a “sovereigntist” who social network specialists said broadcast far-right commentary on YouTube.

The move against Melenchon, who has been accused of fuelling conspiracy theories ahead of the presidential election, came days after President Emmanuel Macron was slapped in the face while shaking hands with people on a regional visit.

Other events that have caused concern in France recently are allegations of ties between far-left figures including Melenchon and Islamists, a YouTube video that simulated the execution of a militant from his France Unbowed party, and university gatherings at which Caucasian participants were allegedly not allowed to speak.

Jordan Bardella, vice president of the far-right National Rally (RN) party, dismissed the demonstrations on Saturday as a bid to deflect attention from Melenchon’s remarks on terrorism and the 2022 presidential election.

Groups that took part included Socialists, Communists, ecologists and trade unions.

READ MORE: Calls for nationwide day of demonstrations in France against ‘far-right ideology’