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France aims to shut down far-right anti-immigrant group

French authorities are looking at shutting down a far-right extremist group that has staged several attempts to forcibly block migrants from entering the country by crossing the Alps or the Pyrenees mountains, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said Tuesday.

France aims to shut down far-right anti-immigrant group
Members of the extreme-right group Génération Identitaire brandish a banner reading 'victims of anti-white racism', during a 'Black Lives Matter' anti-racism protest in Paris on June 13th 2020. Photo:

Darmanin, who has also led a recent crackdown on extremist Muslim organisations, said he was “outraged by the efforts by Génération Identitaire activists to undermine the republic.”

Last week, around 30 members of Génération Identitaire (Generation Identity) gathered at the Col de Portillion pass on the border of France and Spain in what they termed a surveillance operation to “defend Europe.”

It was the latest of several mountain patrols in recent years, often involving the building of fences at key crossing points, that have led to skirmishes with migrants and activists.

“If there is enough evidence, I will not hesitate to advise closing it down,” Darmanin told a press conference.

Several lawmakers in southern France have called on the government to shut down Génération Identitaire, but it is the first time Darmanin has publicly condemned the group’s actions.

In August 2019, the group’s leader and two other activists were handed six-month prison sentences after they set up a blockade in the French Alps and rented two helicopters to search for migrants.

In response, a group of around 100 rights activists escorted some 30 migrants into France, sparking scuffles with police.

Génération Identitaire was accused of vigilantism and the three GI members were charged with trying to pass themselves off as police officers, though an appeals court overturned that ruling last December.

The French government has promised to tighten immigration and asylum laws in response to the huge influx of people trying to reach Europe from Africa, the Middle East and Asia since 2015.

Member comments

  1. By “far-right” it can safely be taken to mean a desire to protect local culture and customs from excessive immigration destined to destroy it. This is the sort of thing we champion in rain-forest tribes but shy away from in out own countries for fear of being labelled racists. Meanwhile, Paris has 400,000 illegal immigrants that no one seems in a particular hurry to “shut down”…

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COURT

French court orders Twitter to reveal anti-hate speech efforts

A French court has ordered Twitter to give activists full access to all its documents relating to efforts to combat racism, sexism and other forms of hate speech on the social network.

French court orders Twitter to reveal anti-hate speech efforts
Photo: Alastair Pike | AFP

Six anti-discrimination groups had taken Twitter to court in France last year, accusing the US social media giant of “long-term and persistent” failures in blocking hateful comments from the site.

The Paris court ordered Twitter to grant the campaign groups full access to all documents relating to the company’s efforts to combat hate speech since May 2020. The ruling applies to Twitter’s global operation, not just France.

Twitter must hand over “all administrative, contractual, technical or commercial documents” detailing the resources it has assigned to fighting homophobic, racist and sexist discourse on the site, as well as “condoning crimes against humanity”.

The San Francisco-based company was given two months to comply with the ruling, which also said it must reveal how many moderators it employs in France to examine posts flagged as hateful, and data on the posts they process.

The ruling was welcomed by the Union of French Jewish Students (UEJF), one of the groups that had taken the social media giant to court.

“Twitter will finally have to take responsibility, stop equivocating and put ethics before profit and international expansion,” the UEJF said in a statement on its website.

Twitter’s hateful conduct policy bans users from promoting violence, or threatening or attacking people based on their race, religion, gender identity or disability, among other forms of discrimination.

Like other social media businesses it allows users to report posts they believe are hateful, and employs moderators to vet the content.

But anti-discrimination groups have long complained that holes in the policy allow hateful comments to stay online in many cases.

French prosecutors on Tuesday said they have opened an investigation into a wave of racist comments posted on Twitter aimed at members of the country’s national football team.

The comments, notably targeting Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, were posted after France was eliminated from the Euro 2020 tournament last week.

France has also been having a wider public debate over how to balance the right to free speech with preventing hate speech, in the wake of the controversial case of a teenager known as Mila.

The 18-year-old sparked a furore last year when her videos, criticising Islam in vulgar terms, went viral on social media.

Thirteen people are on trial accused of subjecting her to such vicious harassment that she was forced to leave school and was placed under police protection.

While President Emmanuel Macron is among those who have defended her right to blaspheme, left-wing critics say her original remarks amounted to hate speech against Muslims.

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