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France’s Zemmour gives finger to critic as campaign woes mount

French far-right presidential hopeful Eric Zemmour on Saturday gave the finger to a passer-by during a troubled visit to Marseille, in a gesture seized on by critics as a sign his campaign was beginning to implode.

French far-right media pundit Eric Zemmour gives the finger as he leaves in his car.
French far-right media pundit Eric Zemmour returns the offensive gesture to a woman who had made the sign at him as he leaves in his car after a visit in Marseille, southern France, on November 27th, 2021. Nicolas TUCAT / AFP

Zemmour has yet to formally declare he is standing in the 2022 elections but intense campaigning has left little doubt over his intentions and some polls had suggested he could make it to a second round against President Emmanuel Macron.

But tensions have been mounting in the Zemmour camp as the most recent polls suggested the support of the far-right commentator was beginning to wane in favour of the traditional standard-bearer on the far-right, Marine Le Pen.

Leaving a restaurant in the southern city, Zemmour was given the finger by a passer-by and responded himself with an identical gesture, an exchange captured by an AFP photographer.

A source close to Zemmour, who asked not to be named, told AFP that the gesture was “instinctive”, an action for which he assumed full responsibility.

“He told us ‘I was insulted, I was shown the finger so I responded’,” said the source.

France’s Europe Minister Clement Beaune, a close ally of Macron, told LCI TV that the gesture had shown the “true face” of Zemmour, who won notoriety as a commentator for his strident attacks on Islam and immigration.

“It is the lack of the respect, the division, the hatred and the violence,” he said.

‘Anti-racist Marseille’ 
Zemmour’s trip to Marseille ran into trouble from the start: arriving on Friday he got off the train early in the nearby town of Aix-en-Provence to avoid protesters at Marseille station.

Attempting a 15-minute walkabout in Marseille, he was shouted down by protesters chanting “anti-racist Marseille”.

A walk planned for Saturday in the famed Vieux Port waterside area of the city was cancelled.

A source close to Zemmour however insisted there was “not the slightest doubt” he would declare his candidacy.

“We are just waiting for him to press the button,” said the source.

There has been speculation that his candidacy could be announced in the coming days before Zemmour gives a major address in Paris on December 5th.

Macron has yet to declare his candidacy — but is widely expected to do so early next year. The traditional right-wing Republicans are due to announce their candidate at a congress on December 4th.

Member comments

  1. Class? Mind you, if he made it to President, meetings with the British court jester could be epic and very entertaining.😀

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HEALTH

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

After the seismic decision of the US Supreme Court on Friday, French MPs are calling for the right to abortion in France to be protected by the constitution.

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

Lawmakers from French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party are to propose a parliamentary bill on Saturday that would enshrine the right to abortion in the constitution. 

The move comes after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision on Friday.

“In France we guarantee and advance the rights of women. We protect them,” said Aurore Bergé – the head of Renaissance in the Assemblée nationale and one of the key sponsors of the bill. 

Another co-sponsor, Marie-Pierre Rixain tweeted: “What happens in elsewhere cannot happen in France. We must protect the right to abortion for future generations. 

In 2018 and 2019, Emmanuel Macron’s party – which back then was known as La République en Marche – refused to back bills proposed by left-wing party, La France Insoumise, to enshrine abortion rights into the constitution. 

In a Saturday interview with France Inter, Bergé suggested that the success of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National during parliamentary elections earlier this month had created a sense of newfound urgency. 

She described the far-right MPs as “fierce opponents of women’s access to abortion” and said it was important “to take no risk” in securing it. 

READ MORE France’s Macron condemns US abortion ruling

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has come out in support of the bill. 

The left-wing opposition block, NUPES, also backs it and had planned to propose an identical piece legislation of its own on Monday. 

Macron is seeking parliamentary allies to pass reforms after his formation lost its majority in legislative elections earlier this month.

The legal timeframe to terminate a pregnancy in France was extended from 12 to 14 weeks in the last legislature.

Changing the constitution requires the National Assembly and Senate to adopt the same text, then a three-fifths majority of parliament sitting in congress. The other option is a referendum.

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