Hundreds of French nationalists have demonstrated in Paris against Islamist extremism, chanting the French anthem and saying the religion has no place in the country.
Protester Romain Cyiril says, “France was always a welcoming country, but for the first time we have to deal with a religion which can’t and doesn’t want to integrate itself.”
Three weeks ago, dozens of far-right French activists stormed an unfinished mosque to protest immigration policies that have made France home to Western Europe’s largest population of Muslims. There are an estimated 5 million or more Muslims in this nation of 65 million, although under French law the government does not track religion.
Saturday’s protest was organized by a nationalist group called the Republican Resistance.
Résistance Républicaine is a front organisation for Riposte Laïque, a rabidly Islamophobic website that was founded by an ex-Trotskyist named Pierre Cassen. Cassen and another Riposte Laïque contributor received heavy fines in March this year after being convicted of inciting hatred against Muslims.
Despite the leftist origins of some of its leading members, Riposte Laïque is notorious for working with sections of the far right on the basis of a common hatred of Islam. In July, Cassen was a featured speaker at the International Civil Liberties Alliance conference at the European Parliament, along with Stephen Lennon of the English Defence League.
Among the organisations participating in the Résistance Républicaine demonstration were the MNR and the Union des Français juifs, which supported Marine Le Pen’s candidacy in the presidential election.
Update: You can see photographs of the protest here. The demonstrators carried placards with slogans such as “No to dhimmitude”, “No to the Islamisation of Alsace-Lorraine” and “Islam out of the Louvre” (a reference to the opening of a new wing dedicated to Islamic art at the Louvre Museum in Paris).