The French government’s decision to dissolve two far-right groups Wednesday was a deliberate move to calm tensions in France following suburban rioting and a growing number of Islamophobic incidents, according to one expert on far-right movements.
The French government on Wednesday announced it was banning two far-right militant groups after outlawing three others earlier this month, in a move one expert on far right movements said was a direct response to growing Islamist radicalism.
“There is no place in our country for hate, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or anti-Muslim acts,” Interior Minister Manuel Valls said following a cabinet meeting that agreed to dissolve L’Oeuvre Francaise (The French Work) and the Jeunesses Nationalistes (Nationalist Youth).
The timing of the announcement is significant, according to leading French researcher on the French far-right Jean-Yves Camus.
Camus pointed to a rise in the number of Islamophobic incidents in France, a recent flare-up in tensions over its Muslim and Roma populations and clashes in the Paris suburb of Trappes following a police check on a woman wearing a Muslim veil.
‘Islamophobia a huge driver of Islamist radicalism’
While banning groups will have “little impact” on the politics of their supporters, the “gesture” of banning an organisation sends a strong message that the government is fighting extremism “in all its forms”, he said.
“Valls has shown he is willing to make exceptional gestures,” Camus told FRANCE 24. “It shows that he understands that extremism feeds the hatred of groups at the opposite end of the spectrum.
“The Islamophobia engendered by these groups is a huge driver of Islamist radicalism, and while Valls has been vocally critical of Islamists following the riots in Trappes, banning these groups shows that he is targeting all forms of extremism.”
Earlier in July the government moved to close the extreme-right Troisieme Voie (Third Way) organisation and its militant wing — some of whose members were allegedly involved in the June brawl which resulted in the death of leftist militant Clément Méric — along with a third group called Envie de Rever (Desire to Dream).
The government says the five banned groups form the hard core of around a dozen far-right movements, with up to 3,000 members, who have gained visibility as the anti-immigrant National Front has sought to become a more mainstream political party.
Date created : 2013-07-25