Clashes mar far-right French presidential candidate's rally as he vows 'reconquest'
French far-right presidential candidate Eric Zemmour has vowed a “reconquest” against decades of decline during his first campaign rally marred by clashes between his supporters and anti-racism protesters.
He said he was calling his party “Reconquest”, a reference to the historic period known as the 'Reconquista', when Christian forces brutally drove Muslims from the Iberian Peninsula.
"If I win this election, it won't be another rotation of power but a reconquest of the greatest country in the world," Zemmour boasted in his nearly 90-minute address.
Supporters of the 63-year-old former pop historian and TV commentator – who has in the past been convicted of inciting racial hatred – threw punches and chairs at protesters who were wearing anti-racism T-shirts. trying to stand on chairs as he delivered his first speech since declaring his candidacy.
Five protesters were reportedly injured. Blood was visible on at least two of the activists as they were dragged out from the auditorium.
"We wanted to do a non-violent protest," Aline Kremer from the SOS Racisme group that organized the stunt, was quoted as saying in an AFP report. "People jumped on them and started hitting them."
Moreover, as Zemmour moved through the crowd of supporters towards the stage to speak, a protester briefly grabbed him by the neck before security officers intervened.
Zemmour’s campaign staff was cited in Le Monde newspaper as saying that he had been injured during the incident and that a doctor had ordered a nine-day rest for him.
Prior to the political rally, French police arrested several dozen anti-Zemmour protesters and chased away others near the huge convention hall north of Paris. Hundreds of protesters also marched in Paris.
With echoes of Donald Tru mp's first campaign for US president, Zemmour used his speech to further pledge to slash immigration and taxes, drawing cheers from flag-waving supporters that rally organizers put at 15,000 but local media outlets estimated at nearly 10,000.
The journalist-turned-politician ended weeks of speculation about a run for the presidency last Tuesday, declaring his candidacy in an online video.