Anti-fascist militants protested against the presence of Marion Maréchal-Le Pen in their town
Mrs Maréchal-Le Pen, the ultra-conservative niece of far-right presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s nationalist Front National party, organised the Bayonne rally in a bid to drum up support for her aunt ahead of election day.
Demonstrators hurled eggs and smoke bombs at the Front National supporters on Tuesday evening and showered them with boos as they attempted to enter the building where the meeting was being held.
Mrs Maréchal-Le Pen organised a Bayonne rally in a bid to drum up support for her aunt Marine Le Pen
Things you didn't know about Marine Le Pen
Wed, April 5, 2017
Marine Le Pen is a French politician who is the president of the National Front, a national-conservative political party in France and one of its main political forces.
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Described as more democratic and republican than her nationalist father, she has led a movement of "de-demonization of the Front National" to detoxify it and soften its image
The anti-FN protesters also heckled the Le Pen fans as they made their way into the venue, and banged pots and pans to denounce Mrs Le Pen’s hardline policies.
Sonia Paton, a 44-year-old teacher and anti-Le Pen protester, told the AFP news agency: “We came here today to let the Front National know that this is our home, and that fascists are not welcome here.”
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The demonstrators hurled eggs and smoke bombs at the Front National supporters on Tuesday
The patriotic hard-right militants were quick to hit back, and stood outside the venue brandishing the French flag in a show of defiance.
The left-wing protesters then broke into song, and started singing the “Chant des Partisans” (Song of the Partisans), the anthem of the French resistance in World War II. The protest, however, remained relatively peaceful throughout.
The song was a less-than-subtle condemnation of Mrs Le Pen’s recent claim that the French state was not responsible for the wartime roundup of more than 13,000 Jews at a Paris cycling track – the Vel d’Hiv – ordered by Nazi officers in 1942.
The anti-FN protesters also heckled the Le Pen fans as they made their way into the venue
“I don’t think that France is responsible for the Vel d’Hiv,” Mrs Le Pen told LCI television channel on Sunday, before adding that those in power at the time should be held accountable for the atrocity, and not France.
Mrs Le Pen is currently poised to garner more than 25 per cent of the vote in the French presidential election’s first round on April 23, and is widely expected to qualify for the second-round runoff on May 7.