Generation Identitaire

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The group's logo, retrieved from their Twitter page in 2016/17

Génération Identitaire is a small French anti-Islam and right-wing extremist group. It was founded in September 2012. It launched with a video that the group declared was 'not a manifesto, but a declaration of war'. [1]

The group emanates from the European-wide Identitarian Bloc (or Bloc Identitaire) founded in 2003 by the ex-leader of Unité Radicale (UR) - Fabrice Robert. UR had been dissolved a year earlier, as Maxime Brunerie, who was close to the movement, had attempted to murder the president Jacques Chirac. [2]

Generation Identitaire claims to have 2,000 members. It has organised “self-defence” training in several French towns, as well as a national training school.

Generation Identitaire is also part of the far-right Defend Europe network of young anti-immigrant and anti-Islam activists. In August 2017 the network chartered a boat in the Mediterranean to try to hinder the rescue of refugees ( 'to send them “back to Africa”') by harassing and blocking search and rescue vessels run by non-profit organisations and charities including Save the Children. The operation was shortlived, lasting only a week after a series of embarrassing setbacks and opposition by authorities in Sicily, Greece and Tunisia. Despite failing to achieve its objectives, the group, which had crowdfunded £67,000, applauded their mission as a success. [3]

In October 2017 Generation Identitaire set up a new branch (Generation Identity) in Britain. Other prominent affiliated groups are based in Germany and Austria. [4]

Ideology

Focusing their appeal towards French youth, they claim to be the 'first line of resistance against mass immigration' ("Génération Identitaire est la première ligne de la résistance"), and urge younger people in France to 'fight for their identity' and for the 'reconquest' ("notre idéal est la reconquête") of their country. They insist that the youth play a central, executive role in the movement, unlike other parties. ("Dans les partis politiques, les jeunes sont la main d’œuvre. Au sein de Génération Identitaire, nous sommes la tête et les coeurs.")

They believe France is being attacked by a government that wishes to impose a uniformity of culture by not curbing immigration, by teaching history classes that prevent people from loving their country, and by advocating for a failing 'multi-culturalism'. The group's statement also claims to be fighting against the "racaille", or 'riffraff' [5] and that France is in danger of 'Islamification'. [6] Their website, states: 'We do not want more immigration from outside Europe or new mosque construction on French soil.'

Actions

Members of GI blocking a bridge to Calais from refugees, 11 March 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2016 from a member, Matthieu Bontant's, Twitter profile

The group focuses on direct and confrontational actions. Such actions and GI's militaristic outlook strongly resemble that of UK anti-Muslim and far right group Britain First.

  • It first made headlines in November 2012 when around 60 members occupied the construction site of a new mosque in Poitiers, to protest against the influence of Islam in France. They climbed on the building's roof and displayed a banner marked with '732 generation identity' in reference to the year 732, when Charles Martel halted the advance of the invading Muslim army to the north of Poitiers. [7] In an interview, Julien Langella said: 'The political elite has to understand that it's a fight to the death, because it's a matter of survival.' [8]
  • In October 2015, they 'occupied' the roof of a future 'integration house' for traveller populations near Lyon. They deployed a banner where was written 'Saint-Genis will not be Calais', although no traveller population inhabits the 'Jungle'. [9]
  • In November of the same year they 'occupied' the roof of a former retirement home meant to house a hundred refugees in Triel-sur-Seine. They claimed it was outrageous that senior citizens had to be displaced in the name of 'migrants' they did not believe to be fleeing war, but to be 'economic' migrants. [10]
  • In March 2016, more than a hundred protesters blocked several routes for migrants to Calais with burning tyres. The members of the group were carrying banners with the slogans 'Go Home,' 'Defend Calais' and 'No way', and at least 12 protesters were detained by riot police. [11]
  • In May 2016 the group organised a far-right rally held in Paris with hundreds of young people protesting against 'islamization.' [12]
  • In October 2016, it held an anti-refugee demo in Versailles to protest against the relocation of 3,000 Calais refugees in Paris, and the creation of a refugee centre at Yvelines. [13]
  • In November 2017, however, a Génération Identitaire demonstration was banned by Paris Police Prefect Michel Delpuech, along with anti-fascist counterdemonstrations, so as to "avoid violent clashes and public order disturbances". [14]

More actions of the same type have been committed by the group. [15] [16]

  • In 2014 they multiplied 'security operations' in French tube lines (Lille, Nantes, Lyon and Paris), which consist of around twenty members occupying a metro for little more than an hour, dressed in yellow raincoats marked with their group's logo. They claim to do so to defend people from the 'riffraff', which their multiple actions and videos clearly equate with Muslims, asylum seekers, and traveller populations.
  • Their obsession with security is also shown with the 'training' and 'auto-defence' camps that they regularly run, and the gym rooms they open, exclusively for “les jeunes FDS (Français de souche)”, i.e. 'non-immigrant' youth. [17]

Headquarters in central Lille

The far-right group planned to open a bar to act as its headquarters in the northern city of Lille on 24 September 2016. Located just 200 metres from the Grand Palais, it will contain a boxing gym, a cinema, a level advice centre, and a library. Aurélien Verhassel, the group’s local leader, said it would open only to 'Europeans of French spirit, heirs to the Helleno-Christian civilisation'. Locals launched a petition to block the bar, called La Citadelle, citing concern that it 'will propagate hate and cause incidents that are beyond control'.[18]

The petition had gathered more than 60,000 signatures by the 24th, but the Citadelle’s inauguration went ahead as planned with 30 members of the group present. Around 500 protesters, many of them supporters of the far-Left, marched behind banners with slogans such as 'No fascists in our districts' in an attempt to stop the bar's official opening on the evening of the 24th. [19]

In November 2016, demonstrations against the bar were still taking place. On the 19th, protestors had gathered between 600 and 1,200 people in the streets and 70,000 signatures against the bar on their online petition. [20]

People

Affiliations

External resources

References

  1. Tom Carstensen, 'Far-right, anti-immigrant Generation Identity seeks to galvanize nationalist French youth', Free Speech Radio News, 04 May 2016, accessed 14 September 2016.
  2. 'Génération identitaire, émanation toute récente du Bloc identitaire', The Huffington Post, 20 October 2012. Accessed 14 September 2016.
  3. Maya Oppenheim, Defend Europe: Far-right ship stopping refugees ends its mission after a series of setbacks, The Independent, August 2017
  4. Joe Mulhall, HNH explains… the Identitarian movement and the alt-right, 31 October 2017
  5. https://www.generation-identitaire.com/generation-identitaire-2/
  6. https://twitter.com/G_IDENTITAIRE
  7. 'French far-right group storms site of new mosque', France 24, 20 October 2012. Accessed 14 September 2016.
  8. Dale Hurd, Generation Identity' Wages War on France Islamization' CBN News, 10 December 2012. Accessed 14 September 2016.
  9. 'Des militants de Génération identitaire "occupent" un futur village de Roms', The Huffington Post, 24 October 2015. Accessed 14 September 2016.
  10. - 'Triel-sur-Seine : l'opération anti-migrants de Génération identitaire', Le Parisien, 08 November 2015. Accessed 14 September 2016.
  11. 'Protesters block migrant routes to Calais, demand end to ‘invasion in Europe’ (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)', RT News, 12 March 2016. Accessed 14 September 2016.
  12. 'Far-right anti-migrant rally sweeps Paris (VIDEO, PHOTOS)', RT News, 28 May 2016. Accessed 14 September 2016.
  13. Versailles : manifestation du mouvement anti-immigration Génération identitaire, RT News, 29 October 2016. Accessed 03 November 2016.
  14. [26-11-2017 15 arrested for possession of weapons after Paris far-right demo banned, RFI, 26 November 2017, last accessed 16 Jan 2018
  15. 'Génération identitaire déploie une banderole anti-immigration sur un bâtiment européen à Paris' BFM TV, 23 May 2015. Accessed 14 September 2016.
  16. 'Extrême droite : nouvelle «tournée anti-racailles» dans le métro parisien', Le Parisien, 09 May 2014. Accessed 14 September 2016.
  17. 'Génération identitaire: au coeur de la campagne “antiracailles” qui veut “sécuriser” le métro', Les Inrocks, 28 June 2014. Accessed 14 September 2016.
  18. 'Locals fight to block opening of far-right bar in central Lille' The Local, 12 September 2016. Accessed 14 September 2016.
  19. Rory Mulholland,Far-Right bar in Lille draws protests, The Telegraph, 25 September 2016. Accessed 28 September 2016.
  20. [http://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2016/11/19/a-lille-des-centaines-de-personnes-reclament-la-fermeture-du-bar-d-extreme-droite-la-citadelle_5034476_3224.html A Lille, des centaines de personnes réclament la fermeture du bar d’extrême-droite La Citadelle], Le Monde, 21 November 2016. Accessed 29 November 2016.