Riots Bolstering French Radicals

The Washington Times today reprints a piece from yesterday’s London Sunday Telegraph noting that the French riots, now more in progress for more than two weeks among Muslim and other immigrants, have dramatically increased the popularity of National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Riots drive recruits into arms of Le Pen

Nationalist leader Jean-Marie Le Pen claims that the riots sweeping France have led to thousands of new recruits to his anti-immigration Front National (FN) party. Mr. Le Pen is one of the few political winners to emerge from the violence and vandalism, now well into its third week, that has prompted President Jacques Chirac to declare a state of emergency. Several of the hard-line measures Mr. Le Pen had called for, including widespread curfews, were adopted by the conservative government last week.

Mr. Le Pen’s popularity jumped five points in an opinion poll for Paris Match, and he claims that the FN has been “submerged” by messages of support since the riots began. Fears that the unrest would boost France’s right wing were aired on Web logs — since shut down — in response to messages calling for more violence. “Carry on like this, guys, and in 2007 Le Pen will be president of the republic,” wrote one youngster in opposition to the violence. The rioters are primarily first- and second-generation immigrants from north and west Africa and mostly Muslims.

Mr. Le Pen, who is typically labeled “far right” or “extreme right” by mainstream European newspapers, shocked French politics three years ago when he was voted into the second round of presidential elections against Mr. Chirac. A television news executive admitted last week to censoring coverage of the riots for fear of encouraging politicians such as Mr. Le Pen. Jean-Claude Dassier, the head of the television news service LCI, told a conference in Amsterdam: “Politics in France is heading to the right, and I don’t want right-wing politicians back in second or even first place because we showed burning cars.”

With a 24-hour ban on rallies in Paris due to be lifted today, Mr. Le Pen, 77, has summoned “legitimately worried and fed-up French people” to assemble in Palais Royal square in the city center tomorrow evening. Marine Le Pen, his 37-year-old youngest daughter and political heir, told the London Sunday Telegraph that her father, one of France’s longest-serving politicians, had been vindicated. “The Front National predicted and warned this violence would happen 20 years ago. It has been political madness for 30 years since we allowed immigrants to come here as cheap labor at the behest of French bosses,” said Miss Le Pen, a mother of three, lawyer and member of the European Parliament. “Five percent of those here legally have an employment contract, which means 95 percent are living at cost to the public purse. It is ruining our health system, our social security system and aggravating unemployment and social problems,” she said.

The evidence here is anecdotal and contradicts some other reporting. Still, the prospect of the radical fringe increasing its hold in French politics is problematic. More troublesome, though, is the notion that the press would stifle honest discussion of the underlying issues here for fear of bolstering Le Pen.

via OTB roving correspondent Richard Gardner

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jack Ehrlich says:

    How typical of the left wing press. Do not print information that may be important to the nation for political reasons. I wonder who started it, the French or us. I know that freedom of the press was meant to mean more than printing what your side, politically wants printed.

  2. RA says:

    Right wing fringe my a**. A neocon is a liberal who has been mugged. France is run by left-wing extremist socialists. Anyone to the right of Fedel Castro is considered a rigt-wing extremist.

    Bothb Europe and the US should establish a moratorium on all Islamic emmigration until we see Islamic populations hunting down and killing the islamofascists who want to kill us.

  3. Elmo says:

    Really on your game today James (all of today’s stories in total). No Pasaran! and Brussel’s Journal had xln’t coverage/stories of the imbalance in all Euro/French media riot coverage. A few days ago.

  4. Sabrina says:

    RA, Le Pen is really dangerous, he’s a bit the french Hitler.

    Yes, the media have to pay attention on what they say. Because in 2002 it was their fault when Le Pen got in the 2nd turn. And they know it.

    On what they showed you could think there are only delinquants in the projects. Wich is not true at all. It’s just a minority who give a bad reputation to these neighbourhoods.

  5. Bertrand Feuvray says:

    11. 18. 05

    I think that may shock many to hear this but I think that all Muslims and Black Africans (because they are also Muslims) should all be deported from France whether they are French citizens or not. We cannot keep any there because of their hatred of anything Christian, Western European and Democratic. So I hope that Le Pen will win even though I do not like his anti-American stance regarding Iraq.
    I think if Le Pen wins, He should support America in Iraq. All of Europe should be supportive of America. If do not and undermine America’s power in the world, America will pull out and the power vacuum will be filled by countries like Russia or China which are just as bad as the Muslims. Then you can kiss democracy good bye.

  6. Sabrina says:

    No, black africans are not all muslims, most of them are catholic.

    And they don’t hate everything who is european, christian and democratic.

    I know all that because I know many arab and black people. And you, where did you heard the bullshits you’re saying ?

    If Le Pen is elected president, there are big risks that he try to install a dictatorship. During the last election he said he would take the full powers to resolve the problem of insecurity.

    And if you want to kick out everybody who have foriegn origins from France, there won’t be many people here after that. Because 1/4 of french have foreign origins…

  7. Sabrina says:

    oh, and if Le Pen win, you can kiss democracy good bye.

    Because if there’s one person in France who hate republic and democracy, it’s Le Pen.

    He said several times that he was using democracy and republic.

    And you can be sure he won’t help America. He hates America. In fact, he hates everybody except himself and his daughter.