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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

France bans far-right group that blocked migrants

Generation Identity and anti-migrant group Defend Europe attempt to fence off the French-Italian border [AFP]

Date of publication: 3 March, 2021

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The French government banned Generation Identity, a far-right group known to attempt blocking migrants from entering the country.

The French government on Wednesday banned far-right group Generation Identity, which gained notoriety through several attempts to block migrants from entering the country.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin posted the decree dissolving the group on Twitter, saying it "incites discrimination, hatred and violence" and has ties to white supremacist groups.

The decree added that the group, which has branches in several European countries, could be regarded "as having the character of a private militia" and noted that it had received donations from New Zealand mosque attacker Brenton Tarrant, who shot dead 51 people in Christchurch in March 2019.

Clement Martin, a spokesperson for Generation Identity which is based in the southeastern city of Lyon, said it would challenge the ban in France's highest administrative court.

In January, around 30 members of Generation Identitaire (Generation Identity) had gathered at the Col du Portillon pass on the border of France and Spain in what they called a surveillance operation to "defend Europe".

It was the latest in a string of mountain demonstrations by GI activists in recent years, often involving the deployment of fences at key crossing points, that have led to skirmishes with migrants and activists.

In August 2019, the group's leader and two other activists were handed six-month prison sentences after they set up a blockade in the French Alps and rented two helicopters to hunt migrants.

In response, a group of around 100 rights activists escorted some 30 migrants into France, sparking scuffles with police.

Generation Identity claims 2,800 members. Set up in 2012, it states its mission as combatting immigration and the "Islamization" of Europe.

The government has accused it of "deliberately conflating Muslims, immigrants and Islamists or terrorists".

In 2019, members of the group staged a sit-in on the roof of a family benefits office in the multi-ethnic Paris suburb of Bobigny, where they unfurled a banner demanding "money for the French, not for foreigners."

The group was also accused of attacking Turkish football supporters attending the Euro 2016 tournament in France.

The French government has tightened immigration and asylum laws in response to the huge influx of people trying to reach Europe from Africa, the Middle East and Asia since 2015.

It has also banned three associations suspected of links to Islamist groups, including a group that campaigns against Islamophobia.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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