French election: Young alt-right making waves

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French election: Young alt-right making waves
« on: April 09, 2017, 06:21:48 PM »
French election: Young alt-right making waves
By Henri Astier BBC News, Paris
·        5 April 2017
Image copyrightAFPImage captionThe most distinctive feature of France's alt-right is its youth
France, despite its reputation as a beacon of progressive liberalism, has been at the forefront of a burgeoning pan-European far-right movement.
Marine Le Pen, an anti-immigration Eurosceptic who may well top the first round of France's presidential election on 23 April, is riding a populist insurgency that has been growing over the past 15 years.
Its themes are familiar in the era of Donald Trump and Brexit: concern for hardworking people, support for traditional values, and opposition to immigration and supranational busybodies.
But the most distinctive characteristic of France's patriotic surge is youth. Unlike their contemporaries in the US and the UK, the under-30s in France are more nationalistic than the general population.
At the radical end of the movement are the "identitaires", or identitarians - the equivalent of the American alt-right.
Who are the identitarians?
Their standard bearers are Génération Identitaire (GI), a group that specialises in publicity stunts that it films and posts online to advertise its fight to reclaim French territory said to have been lost to foreign migrants.
Image copyrightAFPImage captionIn 2012 GI occupied a mosque in Poitiers, a city historically linked with resistance to Muslims
GI has 120,000 Facebook fans - almost twice as many as the youth wings of the Socialist Party and the centre-right Republicans combined.
Unlike the skinheads of old, the group sticks to non-violence. The iPhone, it has found, is mightier than the boot.

France votes: on the BBC
Image copyrightGETTY IMAGESImage captionThe five main candidates are (L-R) Francois Fillon, Benoit Hamon, Marine Le Pen, Emmanuel Macron and Jean-Luc Melenchon
§  Is Marine Le Pen far right?
§  Macron: Ambitious man on the move
§  One-time favourite devoured by 'fake jobs' affair
§  Fillon payment inquiry: What you need to know
§  Who are the candidates?
§  Inside France's young far right

Following a group of activists handing out flyers in Paris, however, it is clear that they relish verbal confrontation. Their leader Pierre Larti, 26, stands surrounded by a group of North African men.
"When I read this leaflet I understand that you don't want me here," one says.
"What we don't want is the replacement of our values by Islamic ones," replies Mr Larti. "France is historically a Christian country. I'm not criticising anyone. What happens in your land is your business. What happens here is ours. We are against colonisation, and this is why we don't want the same phenomenon to happen in reverse."
Image caption"This is OUR homeland," the French identitarians insist
Oddly, perhaps, for a group passionately attached to national differences, GI is sprouting branches across Europe. But identitarians see the whole continent as a battleground between European and Islamic culture.
Jean-Yves Le Gallou, a former Euro-MP, speaks of a struggle for "civilisational" identity. "Whether you are Dutch, German or French," he says, "you have the same problem and have the same view of the world."
Mr Le Gallou, 69, has produced a video entitled Being European ("Europe is not a globalised, borderless space. Europe is not African or Muslim territory.") that has been viewed more than 3.2m times on YouTube in less than two years - three times as many as Being French, a sister video extolling his homeland.
Mr Le Gallou's website, Polemia, stands at the high-brow end of France's identitarian spectrum. In the 1970s, he was a leading member of the Nouvelle Droite, an influential group of far-right thinkers.
His continued influence is testament to the deep intellectual roots of the identitarian movement.
It also highlights the power of new media. Without the internet, Mr Le Gallou and others would have no mass audience. Their warnings against the "Great Replacement" of locals by immigrants are no-go areas for mainstream journalists.
Spreading the message online
Shut out by traditional media, identitarians have thrived on the web over the past decade. One of the online stars is Fdesouche, a news aggregator that features links to articles and clips from mainstream sites selected to chronicle chaos in migrant suburbs.
Fdesouche offers no comment, but leaves readers to draw their own conclusions: Islamists and "racaille" ("rabble" - code for dark-skinned criminals) are threatening to take over the country, one housing estate at a time.
Fdesouche gets about 3m views per month, dwarfing the websites of mainstream politicians. Emmanuel Macron, a centrist with a devoted following of hipsters, manages less than 1m.

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