by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
A huge anti-Gay march in Paris turned into a street fight on May 26, as riot police clashed with ultra-right gangs.
Some 350 people were reportedly arrested and 36 injured, including 34 police officers, one protester, and one journalist.
According to Agence France Presse (AFP), as the 400,000 people who participated in the anti-marriage equality demonstration began to disperse at the end of the day, some 500 extreme right-wingers began to throw metal barriers, beer bottles, and flares at police, who responded with tear gas and water cannons.
'These incidents were provoked by several hundred individuals, most from the extreme right and the [French nationalist] Bloc Identitaire, who violently attacked police,' French Interior Minister Manuel Valls told reporters.
WHAT WOULD NAPOLEON DO?
Most of the fighting took place in front of the historic Hotel des Invalides, where Napoleon is buried. The French government deployed more than 4,500 police in anticipation of violence.
The ultra-right group French Spring released a statement calling on its supporters to target 'the government and all its appendices, the collaborating political parties and lobbies where the ideological programs are developed, and the organs which spread it.'
In response, Valls said he would consider banning the organization.
'This is a call to violence,' he told radio station France Info. 'Justice will have to act because it is intolerable that in the Republic there can be these messages of hate. There is no place for groups that challenge the Republic, democracy, and which also attack individuals.'
Valls added that he did not 'take lightly' the death threats received by public officials who support marriage equality.
French Spring, named to echo the so-called Arab Spring, is an umbrella organization bringing together a number of nationalist, ultra-right, and neo-Nazi groups. The group is accused of inciting the violence that has accompanied many anti-Gay demonstrations.
Dominique Venner, who blew his brains out at the altar of Notre Dame Cathedral on May 20, was associated with French Spring. Fifty years ago, Venner was a member of the right-wing terrorist group Secret Army Organization (OAS), which tried to prevent the French government from recognizing Algerian independence. OAS carried out several bombings in both France and Algeria, and tried unsuccessfully to assassinate the late French President Charles de Gaulle.
SOME WANT 'REVOLUTION'
Also joining the anti-Gay march under the French Spring umbrella were the Catholic traditionalist group Civitas Institute, and the extreme right-wing Nationalist Youth, an affiliate of the National Front Party.
Civitas has accused French President Francois Hollande, who campaigned on a promise to legalize same-sex marriage, of being a 'puppet of the Freemasons.' The group claimed to have turned out 10,000 supporters for the May 26 march.
'This May 26 will mark the transformation of the French Spring into a revolution,' Civitas said in a statement. 'Remain focused! The slogan remains the same: Destroy the enemies of marriage, family, and France.'
The French National Front is not only anti-Gay, but also anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant. Its founder, Jean Le Pen, once famously dismissed the Nazi holocaust as a 'detail.' Le Pen's daughter Marine, who has lead the party since her father retired in 2011, has tried to walk back some of his more extreme positions, but she went out of her way to praise Venner after his May 20 suicide.
Virginie Tellen, better known as Frigide Barjot, the leader of Manif Pour Tous (Demonstration for Everyone), the group that called for the May 26 march, has denied any association with ultra-right groups and has charged that they have threatened her life. 'Manif Pour Tous' is a pun on the Socialist Party slogan 'Marriage Pour Tous' (Marriage for Everyone).
The conservative UMP party, the party of former President Nicolas Sarkozy, also participated in the May 26 march. Its current leader, Jean-François Copé, reportedly led one of the many individual processions that met at the Place Vauban in front of the Invalides.
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