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French far-right protests over stabbing were stirred by Dublin riots - source

Published Nov 28, 2023 12:08PM ET Updated Nov 28, 2023 09:30PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A badge of the French Municipal Police is seen at the Milipol Paris, the worldwide exhibition dedicated to homeland security and safety, in Villepinte near Paris, France, November 15, 2023. REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier/File Photo

By Juliette Jabkhiro and Layli Foroudi

PARIS (Reuters) - Night-time protests across France over the past few days by ultra-right militants chanting "Islam out of Europe" have been fanned by last week's rioting in Dublin, a French intelligence source and far-right Telegram communications indicate.

The demonstrations in protest at the fatal Nov. 19 stabbing of a teenager were an attempt by the far-right "to convince the French public that immigration is the cause of crime," far-right expert and political scientist Jean-Yves Camus said.

Far-right politicians framed the murder of the teenager, named Thomas, in the southeastern village of Crepol as an attack on France and what France represents, as witnesses alleged that the assailants were of Arab origin.

Nine people have been arrested in connection with the killing, which followed a village ball, authorities said.

On Monday, hundreds marched in Lyon, Rennes and Grenoble and about 100 people marched in the southern town of Romans-sur-Isere on Saturday in the neighbourhood of one of the alleged killers.

The Dublin riots on Nov. 23, led by far-right groups after three children were stabbed in the capital, were a "trigger" for such a strong reaction in France over the last few days, a French intelligence source told Reuters, noting that there was a will among far-right activists to be "as good as the Irish."

In messages sent on French far-right Telegram groups, seen by Reuters, videos of the Dublin riots were shared, highlighting what they said was the assailant's Algerian origin and hailing the reaction of the Irish far-right.

"Bravo to the resistance," one message read.

Camus added Saturday's march in Romans-sur-Isere differed from reactions by ultra-right groups to similar events in the past, as militants had traveled from around the country to head to one of the suspect's neighbourhoods "revenge" in mind.

CALMING TENSIONS

On a visit to Crepol on Monday, government spokesperson Olivier Veran urged calm, saying "we don't respond to violence with violence, we respond with justice. We don't respond to violence with division."

French authorities have arrested more than a dozen march participants over the last few days and interior minister Gerald Darmanin said on Tuesday that he intended to shut down three ultra-right and neo-Nazi groups, including one based in Paris known as the Martel Division.

"France has avoided an Ireland-like scenario, because it was firm, France has avoided a mini-civil war," Darmanin told France Inter radio.

Some 20 people were taken into custody at Saturday's march in Romans-sur-Isere, of which six were handed six to 10 month prison sentences on Monday, Valence prosecutor Laurent de Caigny said.

Eight people were arrested in Lyon, local authorities said.

There are about 3,000 violent ultra-right militants identified by the French intelligence services. That number has been stable for the last few years but the national coordination by demonstrators as seen on Saturday is a new phenomenon, the intelligence source said.

French far-right protests over stabbing were stirred by Dublin riots - source
 

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