Right-wing extremist Eric Zemmour started his candidacy for the French presidential elections on April 10th and 24th on Sunday with an event marked by anti-fascist protests, arrests and violent incidents on the outskirts of Paris.
Up to 46 demonstrators were arrested by police at lunchtime as they concentrated near the Villepinte Exhibition Park, where the event was held, where around 2,000 anti-fascist activists have gathered.
Several SOS racism activists were later attacked when a dozen of them tried to break into the Zemmour rally. The activists stood with their fists raised and displayed T-shirts that said “No to Racism”, but Zemmour supporters pounced on them. Chairs were thrown at them and several activists were knocked down and brutally beaten.
“We are peaceful and determined activists against racism. I thought we were in a democracy and could have said what we had to say without physical consequences,” said one of the protesters with a bloody face, quoted by ‘Le Parisien’.
SOS Racismo has reported five injuries, two of which required medical attention. “They did this to our activists because they reminded us that racism has no place in our society,” the group wrote on Twitter.
When Zemmour showed up at the scene shortly before the SOS Racismo incident, he was attacked by another assistant who put his hands around the politician’s neck and was immediately expelled from the security service. Currently, his intentions are not clear.
In addition, hundreds of other demonstrators have gathered in the Barbès district of Paris to express their opposition to Zemmour at the summons of fifty trade unions, political parties and associations.
Left-wing candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon also held a political event, proclaiming “France is not the extreme right!”
“France is social security, it’s public health, it’s emancipation, it’s school, it’s research, it’s dividing,” argues Mélenchon from La Défense. The chairman of La Francia Insoumise has called for a “show of force” in view of the mobilization of the extreme right.
During the event, Zemmour denied allegations of being a fascist, misogynist or racist, calling them “ridiculous”. “You may have heard that I am a fascist, a racist and a misogynist,” he said.
In particular, he responded to accusations of misogyny and emphasized that during his childhood in Algeria he was surrounded by women “of course my mother, but also my sisters, my grandmothers”. “The women of my childhood shaped my character even more than the men,” he riveted.
He claims to be the “defender” of women in the face of “Islamic civilization that is so cruel to women”, while feminists “look the other way and speak to us of an inclusive language”.
“Obviously I am not a racist,” continued Zemmour, who on previous occasions has defended the Pétain regime, a collaborator of the Nazis, for “saving the Jews,” an extreme that historiography has denied. “Racist is to believe that those who are different from us are inferior (…). How could I, a little Berber Jew who came from the other side of the Mediterranean, think that?”
“All we want is to defend our heritage, our country, our homeland (…). France has returned,” he announced.
Zemmour was already sharply condemned during his time as a celebrity for inciting hatred and in articles referred to the woman as the “prey” of the successful man. In addition, Zemmour is charged with multiple sexual assaults, despite no formal complaint regarding the matter.