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NATIONAL FRONT

‘I want France for the French’: Le Pen’s niece tells US right-wingers

Hardline former French MP Marion Marechal-Le Pen told American conservatives Thursday that her nation's far-right movement was "standing side by side" with the supporters and nationalist policies of President Donald Trump.

'I want France for the French': Le Pen's niece tells US right-wingers
Marion Marechal-Le Pen of French National Front party speaks during CPAC. Photo: AFP
“Just like you, we want our country back,” the telegenic 28-year-old niece of failed presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said from the main stage of the Conservative Political Action Conference, held each year just outside Washington.
   
Marechal-Le Pen is believed to be the first member of France's far-right National Front (FN) to address CPAC, a controversial move for a conference where US Vice President Mike Pence spoke to the crowd just minutes earlier, and where Trump himself is Friday's headliner.
   
Marechal-Le Pen, who decided not to run in last May's French election, urged the crowd not to see her as the “terrifying” figure she said the American press makes her out to be, but as an ideological partner.
 
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Marine Le Pen's niece to join Trump and Farage at right-wing US rallyPhoto: AFP  

“Here at CPAC, we are once again standing side by side in another battle for freedom,” she said, speaking mainly in English.
   
“I am not offended when I hear President Donald Trump say 'America first,'” she said to a loud cheer.
   
“In fact, I want America first for the American people, I want Britain first for the British people, and I want France first for the French people!”
   
She praised conservatives for putting their ideals at the forefront. “Let us build on what you have achieved here, so that on both sides of the Atlantic, a conservative agenda may prevail.”
   
Marechal-Le Pen made little mention of dropping out of politics, but did note that she recently launched a school of management and political science in order to “train the leaders of tomorrow.”
   
“The challenge is immense,” she said.
   
Marechal-Le Pen has insisted that her project is not partisan, and that the school will not be allied with any political party.
   
Her hardline stance on immigration, Islam and abortion commands a loyal grassroots following, but her party has recently shut down speculation that the young scion of the Le Pen family was making a political comeback.
   
Marechal-Le Pen also took aim at the European Union, a popular target for the far right.
   
The EU has “imposed” its laws and regulations on her country, she said, and politically correct immigration policies were altering France's character as a millenium-old Catholic nation.
 
“The result is the development of an Islamic counter society in France,” she contended.
   
“This is not the France that our grandparents fought for,” she said, in an apparent nod to her grandfather Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of the FN.
 
“Vive la France!” an attendee shouted out.

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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