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Far-right vandals target immigration museum

The recently inaugurated Museum of the History of Immigration has been vandalised twice by far-right groups, a sign of the rise in hate and extremism in France, according to the museum chief.

Far-right vandals target immigration museum
Photo: Jean-Pierre Dalbera/FLickr

When president François Hollande formally inaugurated the Museum of the History of Immigration in Paris last December, he urged the French not to give in to “scaremongers and prophets of doom” who dream of a “smaller and more spiteful France”.

Some of those spiteful prophets of doom appear to have been behind recent vandalism at the museum, which has left one those in charge “wondering what is happening in France right now”.

Posters against immigration and multiculturalism were plastered around the building’s entrance on Sunday. They read “multiculturalism is a failure and is leading France into civil war” and “mass immigration threatens our civilisation”.

The incident came just days after a previous incident saw graffiti daubed outside the building.

Words like “foreigners out”, “re-migration” and “end all this” were on the walls of the museum.

For Benjamin Stora, chairman of the museum’s steering committee, the significance of the incidents should not be played down.

“What is happening in France right now is not good. There is a rise in extremism and a rise of the National Front. The museum has been vandalised twice this week," he told Europe1 radio.

The responsibility for the vandalism appears to have been claimed by a far-right group “La Dissidence Français”, who posted images to their website.

The group claims the museum is “a place dedicated to the cosmopolitan propaganda and a globalist rewriting of history”.

A complaint has been lodged with police.

SEE ALSO: Immigration in France – Hollande slams alarmists

The museum, located on the edge of the Bois de Vincennes in eastern Paris, has had a troubled history. It was a flagship project of former President Jacques Chirac, but then became something of a political football as Nicolas Sarkozy refused to show up for its opening in 2007.

In 2010 the building was taken over by hundreds of undocumented immigrants, who camped there for months, to demand working papers. They were eventually removed by police. 

 

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DEMONSTRATION

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’

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