France aims to shut down far-right anti-immigrant group

Several lawmakers in southern France have called on the government to shut down the Generation Identitaire group
Last Updated 26 January 2021, 12:16 IST

French authorities are looking at shutting down a far-right extremist group that has staged several attempts to forcibly block migrants from entering the country by crossing the Alps or the Pyrenees mountains, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said Tuesday.

Darmanin, who has also led a recent crackdown on extremist Muslim organisations, said he was "outraged by the efforts by Generation Identitaire activists to undermine the republic."

Last week, around 30 members of Generation Identitaire (Generation Identity) gathered at the Col de Portillion pass on the border of France and Spain in what they termed a surveillance operation to "defend Europe."

It was the latest of several mountain patrols in recent years, often involving the building of fences at key crossing points, that have led to skirmishes with migrants and activists.

"If there is enough evidence, I will not hesitate to advise closing it down," Darmanin told a press conference.

Several lawmakers in southern France have called on the government to shut down Generation Identitaire, but it is the first time Darmanin has publicly condemned the group's actions.

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 search for migrants.

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

Generation Identitaire was accused of vigilantism and the three GI members were charged with trying to pass themselves off as police officers, though an appeals court overturned that ruling last December.

The French government has promised to tighten 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.

(Published 26 January 2021, 12:16 IST)

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