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Leftist protesters denounce far-right 'corruption' of French society

·1-min read

Parties from the left of French politics have united for “freedom marches” in dozens of cities across France to rally against far-right ideology.

Politicians, trade unions, environmental groups, human rights NGOs and others turned out to denounce right-wing extremist hatred, which they say is influencing French law.

Organisers say they’re particularly angry about how debate over immigration and security by the far right has saturated the political agenda.

They also oppose the “climate of racism and intolerance” that they argue is corrupting French society.

Thousands of people joined more than 140 demonstrations in cities including Marseille, Rennes, Strasbourg, Nantes and Bordeaux.

At the Paris march, leader of the far left France Unbowed party, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, reacted with humour after being hit with a flour bomb at Place de Clichy.

“The white suits me,” he told reporters at the scene. “It’s OK, it was only flour. I am alive, everything is fine.”

A man identified as the flour bomber told BFMTV he had not intentionally targeted Mélenchon, though members of France Unbowed said they were upset he was not arrested.

Deep divisions

Despite the show of unity Saturday, there was no common slogan at the marches, which French media described as “disorganised”.

Political divisions have continued to dog the French left as the country shifts into campaign mode ahead of next year’s presidential elections.

Centrist President Emmanuel Macron and far-right National Rally leader Marine Le Pen are set to dominate the polls as left-wing parties struggle to find their footing.

France Unbowed, Europe Ecology – The Greens, and the French Communist Party are forging ahead with their campaigns, while the Socialist Party is yet to decide if it will field its own candidate.

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