By Charlie Kimber
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Anti-racists mobilise in France before presidential election

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Activists have held protests against fascists and the far right who are running in the upcoming French presidential election
Issue 2792
Eric Zemmour—meet the new far right threat in France’s presidential election

French presidential election candidate Eric Zemmour is a racist and Islamophobe (Pic: Wikimedia/Creative Commons)

With two months to go before the first round of the French presidential election, anti-racists are taking to the streets.

They are putting forward an ­alternative to the leading candidates from the right, far right and fascists who are competing to beat the drum for brutally racist messages. Last Saturday over 1,000 people marched for justice for Adama Traore, who was killed in police custody almost six years ago.

Assa Traore, his sister, said, “The next five years is ours, not the ­candidates’. The future belongs to us. Let’s all reject racism, discrimination, social injustice, everything which reduces and divides us. Let’s claim a world that resembles us.”

Last weekend also saw a series of marches, meetings and cultural events organised by the national Antiracism and Solidarity Campaign that was launched this month. It was kicked off by a demonstration in the capital Paris last Saturday evening.

There were also demonstrations in other towns and cities including Grenoble and Saulieu. At the Saulieu protest hundreds of anti-racists mobilised against a meeting featuring the far right Islamophobe Eric Zemmour—a presidential candidate. Police using tear gas attacked protesters.

“He’s holding his meeting, but we’re holding our meeting too. He has billionaire financing. We wanted to be here to say that he had no place in Saulieu,” said Frederic Pissot, general secretary of the CGT union federation in Cote-d’Or.

Counter protests have frequently met Zemmour’s rallies. It’s a positive development as for years there have been so few demonstrations at events held by the fascist Marine Le Pen.

Meanwhile Zemmour continues with Islamophobic filth. “I don’t want to hear the muezzin’s voice in France, and if I become president, I won’t,” he said in a television ­interview. 

France should remain “the landscape of churches,” he added. In Toulouse a concert was followed by a football tournament in support of “Les Hijabeuses”. These are ­players who wear the veil and are now under threat from yet more anti-Muslim laws.

There have also been a series of smaller but important activists’ initiatives. At Bordeaux Sciences Po university socialists and anti-fascists blocked staircases and entrances to prevent a visit from Jordan Bardella—a leading member of Le Pen’s National Rally. In Paris on Wednesday of last week over 500 people gathered ­outside the Sorbonne university to repel a far right threat to a ­meeting called by Anasse Kazib. 

Kazib, a ­revolutionary socialist, is trying to collect enough official nominations to run for president. The large turnout meant that Generation Identity fascists who had threatened Kazib’s meeting slunk into the shadows. All these anti-racist events are important. But there is still a gap where there ought to be anti-racist demonstrations of tens of thousands called by the unions and the left. 

Without that the political debate remains utterly dominated by right wing and racist forces—from president Emmanuel Macron rightwards. Activists are now building for a demonstration in Paris on 19 March as part of the worldwide anti-racist mobilisations.

What do the polls say?

The incumbent Emmanuel Macron leads polls for the first round of the presidential election on 10 April, although he is only on about 24 percent.

The next three candidates—within a few points of each other—are the fascist Marine Le Pen, the mainstream conservative Valerie Pecresse and the far right Islamophobe Eric Zemmour.

The highest placed left candidate, in fifth, is Jean-Luc Melenchon. He is a long way at the moment from challenging to be part of the run-off after the first round. But in recent days he has held big meetings with his calls for a £1,175 a month minimum wage, price freezes on basic goods and retirement at 60.

“If you want these in two months, vote for me,” says Melenchon. “If you don’t want them, vote Macron.”

The Labour-type Socialist Party is on just 3 percent or less in recent polls. The Communist Party and three revolutionary left candidates are also putting themselves forward. But it’s almost certain that not all of them will reach the onerous and anti-democratic requirements to be on the ballot paper.

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