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Marine Le Pen’s niece to join Trump and Farage at right-wing US rally

A high-profile gathering of conservatives in Washington on Thursday will host Marion Marechal-Le Pen, a former French far-right lawmaker and niece of the National Front's losing 2017 presidential candidate.

Marine Le Pen's niece to join Trump and Farage at right-wing US rally
Marion Marechal-Le Pen. Photo: AFP
Marechal-Le Pen will be the second headliner to appear on the first full day of speeches at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, addressing the event shortly after Vice President Mike Pence.
   
President Donald Trump is due to speak at the convention on Friday. Other senior members of his administration are also scheduled to appear, along with Republican lawmakers, conservative media figures and veterans.
   
Brexit champion Nigel Farage will also be there, after receiving a warm welcome at CPAC last year, when he praised Trump's “quite remarkable” victory.
   
Each day of the convention, held at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center just outside Washington in Oxon Hill, Maryland, begins with a pledge of allegiance to the US flag and a prayer.
 
Photo:  Marion Marechal-Le Pen (L) and Marine Le Pen (R)
 
The appearance at the CPAC event of Marechal-Le Pen, who became the youngest member of France's national assembly aged just 22 in 2012, comes nearly a year after she announced she was temporarily quitting politics.
 
Her grandfather is Jean-Marie Le Pen, who founded the party and stood for the presidency five times.
 
For decades the party was a toxic brand in French politics, linked to anti-Semites, ex-colonialists and racists.
   
But under current leader Marine Le Pen, who took over the leadership from her father in 2011, the FN has worked to clean up its image.
   
Prior to announcing she was taking a break from politics, Marechal-Le Pen had hinted at dissatisfaction with the internal party politicking and her relationship with both Marine Le Pen and the party's deputy chairman Florian Philippot, who has taken the FN in a more “social” direction to the chagrin of its more conservative wing.
 
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Les Patriotes: What you need to know about France's newest far-right party

Photo: AFP

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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