Eric Zemmour points gun at reporters during an arms fair
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Around 60 people were arrested in Paris at a campaign rally, held by the far-right French presidential candidate, Eric Zemmour, on Sunday. It was the first rally he had held since announcing his candidacy last week, and took place amidst a backdrop of protesters marching through the French capital against his leadership bid.
On Sunday, Mr Zemmour held a campaign rally in a northern suburb of Paris where he had planned to address his supporters.
However, midway through the event, violent clashes broke out as an anti-racism group – who had made their way into the venue – began protesting against Mr Zemmour.
Individuals from the group – who all wore sweaters emblazoned with a ‘No to racism’ message – were filmed being beaten and forcibly removed from the building.
The scuffles are reported to have continued outside the venue between protesters and security staff.
Today, French prosecutors announced they had opened an investigation into what exactly happened at the rally.
They also confirmed that around 60 individuals had been detained following the events that took place on Sunday.
Dominique Sopo, the President of the campaign group, SOS Racisme – whose activists were targeted at the rally – condemned the attacks, likening them to the violent scenes that marred civil rights protests in the US during the 1950s and 1960s.
In addition to the crowd violence, Mr Zemmour was videoed in an apparent scuffle of his own. Footage appeared to show a man emerging from the crowd and locking his arms around Mr Zemmour before being removed by security.
The French Prosecutors officer confirmed that the incident involving the 63-year-old was also under investigation.
Before the violence broke out, Mr Zemmour revealed to the room his campaign slogan “Impossible is not French” – which is a quote attributed to the former French leader, Napoleon.
Speaking at the event Mr Zemmour said: “What’s at stake is huge.
“If I win that election, it won’t be one more changeover, but the beginning of the reconquest of the most beautiful country in the world.”
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The rally itself had to be moved from its original venue due to security reasons, as a protest in Paris against Mr Zemmour’s presidential bid was due to take place at the same time.
Consequently, the event was moved further north in the city and held in a larger exhibition centre.
The march against the far-right candidate was organised by more than 50 groups, including far-left political parties, unions and anti-racism groups.
The French presidential elections are poised to take place in April next year.
Current President Emmanuel Macron is expected to run for a second term, although he has yet to officially announce his bid.
Mr Macron is the pollsters favourite to win the election, with his toughest competitors thought to be Marine Le Pen – National Rally – and Mr Zemmour who will run as an independent.
In 2017, Mr Macron shocked the French political scene by becoming President when he ran without the support of a major party and won the election.
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