French Crowds Protest Rise of Far Right

Left-wing parties form coalition despite differences on wars
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 15, 2024 2:15 PM CDT
With Elections Nearing, French Protest Rise of the Far Right
Protesters sing chants during a demonstration in Marseille, southern France, on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

Anti-racism groups joined French unions and a brand-new left-wing coalition in protests in Paris and across France on Saturday against the surging nationalist far right, with frenzied campaigning having begun ahead of snap parliamentary elections. The French Interior Ministry said 250,000 people turned out to protest, 75,000 of them in Paris. Despite rainy and windy weather, those who fear that the elections will produce France's first far-right government since World War II gathered at Place de la Republique before marching through eastern Paris. Up to 21,000 police and gendarmes were deployed, the AP reports.

The protesters held placards reading "Liberty for all, Equality for all and Fraternity with all"—a reference to France's national motto—and "Let's break frontiers, documents for all, no to the immigration bill." Some chanted "Free Palestine, viva Palestina" and wore keffiyeh scarves. Among them was Nour Cekar, a 16-year-old high school student who has French and Algerian parents and wears the hijab. "To me, the extreme right is a danger because it supports an ideology based on the fear of the other, whereas we are all French citizens despite our differences," she said. Cekar said she will vote for the left-wing coalition because "it is the only political party that addresses racism and Islamophobia."

The crowd chanted "Everyone hates racism" against the backdrop of music of French-Malian singer Aya Nakamura, per the AP. "France is made up of people of different origins. It is its strength. The National Rally wants to break that," 68-year-old Mohamed Benammar, a French doctor with Tunisian roots who works in a Paris public hospital, said of Marine Le Pen's party. "We need a democratic and social upsurge—if not the extreme right will take power,'' French unions said in a statement Friday. "Our Republic and our democracy are in danger.'' To prevent the National Rally party from winning, left-wing parties agreed Friday to set aside differences over the wars in Gaza and Ukraine and form a coalition. They urged French citizens to defeat the far right. The voting is scheduled for June 30 and July 7.

(More French elections stories.)

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