Some 200 far-right demonstrators gathered in Paris on Friday night to protest the death of a French teenager who died last month after being stabbed during what appeared to be a brawl that broke out at a village dance. Although the circumstances of the incident remain unclear, the far right has framed it as a symbol of France’s increasingly insecure society amid immigration.
Chanting “Justice for Thomas” and “French people wake up! You’re at home here”, the demonstrators protested against what they called the laxity of the French law, and urged the imprisonment of racailles, or “scum”, which in French often has racial connotations.
Thomas, a rugby-playing high-schooler, died from his wounds on November 19 after being stabbed in the village of Crépol in southeastern France during a brawl that allegedly broke out between some dance attendees and a group that arrived by car at the end of the event. Nine people have been arrested in connection with the killing.
Although the regional prosecutor, Laurent de Caigny, has said the fight does not appear to have been a premeditated attack based on “race, ethnicity, nationality or religion”, nine out of 104 witnesses said they heard hostile comments about “White people” during the fight. The French far right has capitalised on that, with some alleging that the assailants were from an immigrant background.
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Friday’s far-right protest, which took place in front of the Panthéon in cental Paris, had initially been banned by authorities but a court overturned the decision at the last minute.
Jean-Yves Le Gallou, a former MEP for the far-right National Rally, told demonstrators: “Authorities want to ban all protests that are critical, because they want to impose the arrival of 500,000 new foreigners in France each year, because they want to impose the redistribution of migrants, of illegal aliens in all the villages of France, so that tomorrow there won’t just be one Crépol, but 10 Crépols, 20 Crépols.”
Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said he was “horrified” by the demonstration, which follows a series of others that have been held in the wake of Thomas’s death and that have often turned violent. Earlier this week, the minister announced he would seek to ban three ultra-right groups that have been linked to the protests.