Jewish French Far-right Presidential Candidate Vows 'Reconquest' at Rally

Eric Zemmour promises supporters to slash immigration and taxes entirely at a rally marked by clashes with anti-racist protesters

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Hard-right political talk-show star Eric Zemmour arrives to visit the Major Cathedral in Marseille, southern France, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021.
Hard-right political talk-show star Eric Zemmour arrives to visit the Major Cathedral in Marseille, southern France, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021.Credit: AP / Daniel Cole
Reuters
Reuters

French far-right presidential candidate Eric Zemmour promised on Sunday a "reconquest" against decades of decline at his first political rally, as scuffles with anti-racism protesters broke out on its fringes.

"If I win this election, it won't be another rotation of power but a reconquest of the greatest country in the world," Zemmour said in a nearly an hour-and-a-half-long speech.

He said he was calling his party "Reconquest", a name that evokes the historic period known as the Reconquista, when Christian forces drove Muslim rulers from the Iberian Peninsula.

Zemmour promised to slash immigration and taxes to cheers from flag-waving supporters that organizers estimated at 15,000. 

Supporters threw punches and chairs at several protesters wearing anti-racism t-shirts trying to stand on chairs as Zemmour gave his first speech since declaring his candidacy.

Earlier police arrested several dozen anti-Zemmour protesters and chased away others near the giant convention hall north of Paris. Hundreds of protesters also marched in Paris.

Provocative statements

The former journalist and commentator ended weeks of speculation about a run for the presidency on Tuesday, declaring his candidacy in an online video.

Zemmour, who has been convicted for inciting racial hatred, is the main challenger to long-time far-right figure Marine Le Pen for a place in the second run-off round of next April's election, most likely against President Emmanuel Macron.

Known for provocative statements against Islam and immigration, he has drawn support away from both Le Pen's far-right voter base and the mainstream conservative right.

He said he would aim to bring immigration to zero if elected and cut taxes for the working class and companies, while abolishing inheritance tax on family businesses. He also said he would pull France out of the integrated military command of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

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