By Charlie Kimber
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Anti-racists in France take to streets against new racist laws

This article is over 1 years, 4 months old
Denis Godard, a French socialist central to organising the protests, spoke to Socialist Worker
Issue 2836
A crowd shot of the anti-racist march in Paris, illustrating an article about the anti-racist march in France

Marching in Paris (Picture: @MSolidarites on Twitter)

Thousands of anti-racists protested across France in over 50 demonstrations this weekend against new racist laws and the rise of the far right and fascists. The marches are an important sign of resistance in a political climate saturated by systematic state racism and Marine Le Pen’s fascist National Rally.

In Paris, several thousand took to the streets on Sunday, more than some had predicted. Migrant workers’ groups were in the forefront. “Free the undocumented workers, free the badly-housed, free the refugees,” chanted one big delegation.

Workers denounced the way they are harshly exploited in the catering, building, cleaning, and childcare industries. They are denied their rights and face the constant threat of deportation and state assaults. 

Other marchers remembered those killed by the police, such as Adama Traore in 2016. The protest showed the anger against the government, racist laws and Le Pen, but also against imperialism and the bosses who abuse migrant workers.

Other demonstrations took place in cities including Perpignan, Poitiers, Toulouse, Besançon, Bordeaux, Le Mans, Lille, Marseille, Menton, Montpellier, Nantes and Nice.

Organisers Marche des Solidarités said, “The world today embodied by interior minister Gerald Darmanin hunts, attacks, kills, expels, discriminates, overexploits and divides on the basis of origin, skin colour, nationality, religion.

“This world that breaks solidarity also destroys the planet, develops all inequalities and attacks all our rights. This world bears war and fascism. We say that if we do not fight back when one of us is discriminated against, humiliated, repressed, exploited, all our struggles are weakened.”

A picture of Denis Godard, part of an article on the anti-racist marches in France

Denis Godard

Denis Godard is a socialist and anti-racist who has been central to organising the protests. He told Socialist Worker, “Over a decade ago we started the process that led to this level of mobilisation. It began with some demonstrations for migrants’ rights on 18 December, the United Nations’ international day of migrants. 

“This year the demonstrations are the launching pad of a campaign to stop a new vicious and racist anti-migrant law. The government wants to implement it next March or April.

“It was supported by many racist declarations from Darmanin and president Emmanuel Macron that equate ‘foreigners’ with ‘delinquents’. The whole project pushes up racism in French society and gives more confidence and legitimacy to the fascists. 

“On Wednesday night in a number of big cities, fascist squads attacked young Arabs who took to the streets after the World Cup match between Morocco and France. In Montpellier, a young Arab who was 14 years old died after a car hit him.”

He added, “The new law is part of the whole logic of the government against the poor in general and against workers. It plans to regularise a very small group of undocumented workers in sectors with very bad working conditions and very low wages. It’s a way to make normal these degraded working conditions. 

“The intention is that these can be generalised afterwards. This is the same logic that is behind an attack against pensions across the whole working class that is planned at the same time.

“The 18 December demonstrations were supported by the main national trade unions, the CGT, Solidaires and FSU, and they made a common statement against the new immigration law. They have already announced their determination to fight the attack on pensions. But the unions’ active involvement in the building of the demonstrations was very low.

“Those who took to the streets this weekend will be a starting point for the battles in future weeks and months. The key will be the links that can be created between the anti-racist struggle, the fight against the immigration law, and the struggle to defend pensions.

“It would be a crucial mistake to underestimate the fight against racism and fascism in the struggle over wages and pensions. The government has a global logic. To defeat it, we need a global one as well.”

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