A day after French ?far-right extremists? stormed a mosque in the town of Poitiers, anti-racism campaigners called on France’s authorities on Sunday to take action against groups who “promote hatred” and “seek to divide” the country.
Anti-racism organizations in France are demanding the government launch a swift crackdown against far-right groups, following the storming of a mosque in the west of the country.
In strongly worded statements released on Sunday, two of France?s most high-profile racism watchdogs and a Muslim organization asked the government to ban extremist groups, close their websites and prosecute individuals for inciting racial hatred.
The call from the Movement against Racism and for Friendship between People (MRAP), SOS Racism and the Union of Muslims in France (RMF) comes a day after around 70 members of a youth far-right group known as Generation Identity occupied a newly built mosque in the town of Poitiers.
The dawn raid was intended as a protest against what the far-right group regards as Islam’s growing influence in France.
?What they did was scandalous. They basically declared war against Muslims in France,? Bernadette Hetier, co-president of MRAP, told FRANCE 24. ?These groups are dangerous because they promote hatred. We have asked the government to prevent them publishing their intolerable propaganda.?
?The fundamental rights of all citizens must be respected but these extremists want the opposite. They are a real threat to cohesion because they want to divide France and Europe,? Hetier said, adding that such groups had “already been around for too long”.
The fanatics stormed the mosque at around 6am, climbed onto the roof and unfurled a banner daubed with the symbolic phrase ?732 Generation Identity? ? a reference to the year 732, when Charles Martel halted the advance of the invading Muslim army to the north of Poitiers.
The group have also made their views clear on their website, which bears the statement: ?We do not want more immigration from outside Europe or new mosque construction on French soil?.
France’s Interior Minister Manuel Valls blasted Saturday’s dawn raid, describing it as “hateful provocation”.
Four members of the group were arrested by police following the raid, while prosecutors in Poitiers said they were examining whether to press charges against the group for ?holding an unauthorized protest and inciting racial hatred?.