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Wednesday Mar 03 2021

France bans far-right group that blocked migrants

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin. — AFP/File

  • Generation Identity has tried to bar migrants from entering the country.
  • The group "incites discrimination, hatred and violence", says French minister.
  • In 2019, group's leader and two other activists were handed six-month prison sentences.

The French government on Wednesday agreed to ban far-right group Generation Identity, which gained notoriety through several attempts to block migrants from entering the country.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin posted the decree dissolving the group on Twitter, saying that the group "incites discrimination, hatred and violence".

His decree added that, taking account of its "structure and military organisation", the group can be regarded "as having the character of a private militia".

In January, around 30 members of Generation Identitaire (Generation Identity) had gathered at the Col du Portillon pass on the border of France and Spain in what they called a surveillance operation to "defend Europe".

It was the latest in a string of mountain demonstrations by GI activists in recent years, often involving the deployment of fences at key crossing points, that have led to skirmishes with migrants and activists.

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.

The French government 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.

President Emmanuel Macron is facing criticism over a crackdown against extremist organisations after a spate of attacks, but the government insists it is even-handed and is not discriminating against Muslims.