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France

France to ban far-right groups by July

media Far-right youths on a protest against gay marriage in France earlier this year Reuters/Pascal Rossignol

The French government will ban at least two far-right groups at the end of June or the beginning of July, spokesperson Njat Vallaud-Belkacem said Wednesday. The move follows the death of anti-fascist activist Clément Méric during a confrontation with skinheads on a Paris street two weeks ago.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told the National Assembly on Tuesday that the Jeunesses Nationalistes Révolutionnaires (JNR), a small group to which at least some of the skinheads belonged, and the Troisième Voie organisation to which it is linked will be banned.

Other "groupings" on the far right could also be dissolved, he said, as mainstream right-wing MPs heckled with a demand that far-left groups should suffer the same fate.

The law allows any group facing a ban to reply to evidence brought by the government to justify the procedure.

The government will invoke an internal security law passed after fascist leagues almost stormed parliament in 1936.

It forbids "combat groups" and "private militias", as well as organisations that "provoke armed demonstrations in the street" and a later amendment targets incitement to "discrimination, hatred and violence" against racial or religious groups.

Nearly 60 organisations have been "dissolved" under the law since 1958.

They include the Islamist group Forsanne Alizza, banned in 2012 under former President Nicolas Sarkozy, an openly Nazi organisation called Elsass Korps, in 2005, and the far-right Unité Radicale, which came under the axe after one of its members, Maxime Brunerie, staged a bungled attempt to assassinate then-president Jacques Chirac.

The process may not be plain-sailing, however:

  • Troisième Voie's leader Serge Ayoub says that the JNR has no legal status for a start;
  • A ban that is not correctly framed legally could be struck down by the Constitutional Council;
  • Most importantly, members of a banned organisation can simply join others, as did members of Elsass Korps, or form a new one as Unité Radicale did when, along with other activists, it formed the now much better known Bloc Identitaire.

While Front National leader Marine Le Pen has insisted that her party has nothing to do with Troisième Voie, Socialist Party spokesperson Eduardo Rihan Cypel on Tuesday claimed that there was "ideological complicity" between the two movements.

Having originally denied any knowledge of Troisième Voie, Le Pen has been forced to admit that she had dinner with Ayoub once but insisted that she had concluded that they could not work together.

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