Éric Zemmour had not finished lashing out at immigrants, Islam and even the press in his first campaign rally on Sunday, when violence erupted in the last rows of the gigantic hall of the Villepinte exhibition park, on the outskirts of Paris, where more than 12,000 followers of the French far-right presidential candidate had come. A group of activists from the SOS Racismo organization got on their chairs to show T-shirts with the message “no to racism.” The reaction was immediate: while the security team tried to get them out of the room, numerous assistants who surrounded them began to reprimand them, hit them and even throw chairs at them.
In his first statements about the unusual atmosphere of violence in his convocation, where several journalists also had to be removed from the room due to threats and where the candidate himself suffered an attack that has not yet been clarified, Zemmour assured this Tuesday that he condemns “all violence.” . But he also said that he does not feel “at all responsible”, because anti-racist activists “did not paint anything there” and accused them of being “subsidy sniffing dogs” that only seek to “provoke”.
“Obviously, I condemn all violence, but there are people who come to provoke,” Zemmour said in an interview on BFM TV. “They know very well that they are going to anger the people who are there and they do it for it. For the media to say ‘how bad they are, the others are violent,’ “he accused, without commenting on the fact that the activists did not return the blows at any time, at least according to the images of various media. Asked if he can guarantee that scenes of violence like this will not happen again in their encounters, Zemmour, pending hearing the ruling for a new trial against him for incitement to racial hatred, limited himself to saying that “they will not be reproduced if they do not return. to come ”activists to their acts.
The brand-new far-right candidate wore a wristband on his right hand on Tuesday, the result of the aggression he also suffered on Sunday, when a man jumped on him while Zemmour greeted some attendees before taking the stage. “Why don’t the media talk about the violence I have suffered?” He criticized, while the interviewer reminded him that the press has also echoed his case, about which, however, the details are still unknown.
The public prosecutor of the Republic of the court of Bobigny, on the outskirts of Paris, Eric Mathais, reported on Monday that a judicial investigation has been opened into “the set of violent acts committed during the rally.” On the one hand, the case of SOS Racismo activists is being investigated, with the aim of “accurately determining the different acts of violence committed (…) and identifying their perpetrators”, especially through security recordings. The five activists had been arrested after the incidents and spent the night from Sunday to Monday in preventive detention, one of their lawyers, Ivan Terel, told EL PAÍS.
In his statement, the prosecutor indicated that they had been offered to file a complaint for the violence to which they were subjected. At least one of the militants, identified as Dora and who in the press images shows how she was punched in the back by an attendee at the rally, he assured the newspaper on Tuesday Release that he intended to do so in his “own name and on behalf of the association.” Terel confirmed that SOS Racismo is going to present, until this Wednesday, a total of a dozen complaints, among them those of the five activists attacked -and detained-, who have also presented another lawsuit for “libelous complaint”, in view of the fact that they were arrested after being accused of having committed infractions, “which is not true, but it earned them one night” at the police station, their lawyer recalled. “We want everything to be clarified,” he said in a telephone conversation.
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“We expected loud boos, even that they would annoy us a little or that the security would remove us by force. But we did not expect that some guys would throw themselves on us with such violence (…) That is the type of people that Zemmour gathers in his rallies and whom he later thanked ”, said the activist to Release. “What we see is that at the rallies [de Zemmour] Just wearing a T-shirt with a “no to racism” message, which shouldn’t bother, visibly bothers the attendees a lot, among which apparently there were people linked for a long time to extreme right-wing groups, it gives you food for thought “, Terel said. . According Mediapart, several of whose journalists were also attacked, after the violence against the activists is the neo-Nazi group Zouaves Paris, whose members the Zemmour security officers who removed the SOS Racism activists thanked their “help”. “Thank you, what a pleasure to know that we can count on you (…) Without you, it would have been complicated,” private agents are heard saying in various recordings published by the press.
The second judicial investigation, opened for “premeditated violence”, focuses on the suspect of having attacked Zemmour, who continued this Tuesday in preventive detention, sources from the prosecutor’s office confirmed to EL PAÍS.
After officially announcing his candidacy last Tuesday, Zemmour held his first major campaign event in Villepinte on Sunday. Originally, the ultra debater had booked the Zenith room in Paris, but ended up moving the event to the periphery due to high demand, but also due to threats of violence after several organizations announced a demonstration against him at the same time.
In addition to the incidents inside the exhibition park, 58 people were temporarily detained on Sunday in the vicinity of the rally, suspected of wanting to participate in violent acts, although only six were still detained on Monday and none already this Tuesday. The prosecution has not yet announced whether it will open another investigation into these cases.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.