French presidential election 2022: Far-right Zemmour holds first rally amid protests

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French far-right TV personality Eric Zemmour is holding his first campaign rally on Sunday near Paris, a few days after he formally declared his candidacy for April’s presidential election.

The 63-year-old with multiple hate-speech convictions has unveiled his campaign’s slogan: “Impossible is not French,” a quote attributed to Napoleon.

The rally, which was initially to take place in a Paris concert hall, has been moved to a bigger exhibition centre in a northern suburb of the capital.

The move was prompted by security reasons as a protest against Zemmour took place on Sunday in the French capital.

The march was organised by over 50 organisations including far-left political parties, unions and anti-racist groups. Police had feared possible clashes with Zemmour’s far-right supporters.

In the popular Paris neighbourhood of Barbes, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets on Sunday, marching behind a banner reading “Paris will silence the far-right.”

Zemmour has gained strength on France’s political scene in recent months, starting to siphon off supporters from far-right National Party leader Marine Le Pen, who has long said she would run for the French presidency next year.

Zemmour’s first rally comes one day after France’s main right-wing party “Les Républicains” picked Valérie Pécresse, the head of the Paris region and a former minister from 2007 to 2012, as its presidential candidate.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who defeated Le Pen in the 2017 presidential runoff, is expected to seek a second term but he has yet to declare his candidacy.

The far-left leader of the Rebel France party, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who is seeking the presidency for the third time, also staged a rally on Sunday, gathering several thousand supporters in Paris.

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Other presidential candidates on the left include Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo for the Socialist party and Green MEP Yannick Jadot.

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