The extreme-right group Generation Identitaire (Generation Identity), the youth branch of the nativist Bloc Identitaire movement, which describes its mission as “defending the identity of France and Europe” had launched an appeal to raise funds in early May.
Their aim was to “charter a boat and sail in to the Mediterranean to thwart NGO ships” that regularly save stranded migrants trying to make it across the sea to Europe.
The group claimed it would help any migrants they came across who were in distress before returning them to the African coastline.
The operation named “Defend Europe” that was backed by other far-right identitarian groups around Europe had raised around €65,000 in contributions, €15,000 more than its initial target.
But the campaign did not go unnoticed and web users began to kick up a fuss online, notably urging the internet payment site PayPal, through which the funds were being collected, to block the group’s account.
An online petition was also launched calling for a ban on such fundraising.
The Twitter hashtag #StopDefendEuropePayPal was launched and calls were made to boycott the system.
The pressure eventually took its toll and PayPal reacted by blocking contributions to the Generation Identitaire account.
PayPal’s statement to the Rue89 news website read: “Our policy is to prevent our services being used by companies whose activities promote hatred, violence or racial intolerance.”
Generation Identitaire told the site that their account had been blocked but they would be able to recuperate a part of the contributions.
The group, which has clashed with police during anti-migrant protests at the French-Italian border (see pics below), has planned to carry on and intends to open another fund on another website.
Generation Identitaire caused anger in the northern town of Lille last year when authorities allowed them to open a bar called The Citadel in the city centre.
It led to protests by anti-fascist groups (see pic below).