The Pyrenees, Col du Portillon pass, French side. In the beginning of January, the local prefect ordered police to watch the mountain trail with extreme caution as reports of “immigration and terrorist threats” lay on the route often used by African immigrants sneaking from Spain to France.
A couple weeks later, a dozen individuals from the right- wing youth group, Génération Identitaire, wearing “Defend Europe” inscribed jackets, carried out a two-day operation in the area: with the help of drones and alongside the border guards, they watched for illegal immigrants– lawfully helping the work of French authorities.
These weren’t the first efforts of the organization which originates from France but now functions in multiple countries (including Hungary). Two years ago, a similar border-surveillance-action was organized in the French Alps.
– No way. You will not make Europa your home!
– wrote the banner stretched above the pass in front of the cameras. In 2017, the entire world turned its eyes on the organization when they blocked the way of NGO ships transporting immigrants to Europe. – The main goal was to draw attention to the fact that migrants continue to arrive in our country illegally and that the French Government is lying when they say they’re doing everything to stop illegal immigration.
The police only went out to the territory around the pass when they found out we were planning an action there
– said 21-year-old Thaïs d’Escufon, spokeswoman of the movement, to Magyar Nemzet. – Never again should a drop of French or European blood fall by the knives of terrorists – sounded the Génération Identitaire statements recorded on the spot. The nearly decade-old conservative movement openly assumes their anti-migration and anti-Islamization stance, drawing criticism from many. Moreover, in contrast to the left-wing NGOs, this movement is not supported by any speculators or governments – it exists solely off of donations. “Fascists, xenophobe!” These are the common labels from left-wing representatives and other pro-migration activists referring to the youth movement. And the actions at the Portillon pass – which caused a great deal of controversy – did not go unmentioned by the French Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin either. The Ministry head announced he would do everything in his power to stop the anti-migrant NGO.
– The group’s regular manifestations and maneuvers undermine the French Republic’s peace
– stated Darmanin at the end of January. The Minister also explained recently that terrorism has nothing to do with immigration, as three-quarters of terrorists are French citizens. – If we have the right conditions, I will definitely demand the dissolution of the movement – said Gérald Darmanin. Yet, two weeks ago, the French authorities searched in vain for this evidence which would hypothetically warrant the right-wing group’s termination.
– We’re the right’s Greenpeace
– explained Thaïs d’Escufon in relation to this, insinuating that the organization has nothing to hide. Despite the French woman’s young age, she professionally defends against harsh attacks, criticisms, and threats, not only from the political elite, but also from opinion leaders of social media. So, if the French Minister of the Interior wants to act within the law, he will have a hard time achieving his goal; Génération Identitaire has been very careful to ensure that their actions are always fully legal. While some offenses are committed knowingly, these are done solely for the purpose of raising awareness; they are never involved in violent crime. Usually, the only punishable offense of their banner-wielding protests is climbing onto a roof without permission. – Our activists undergo regular training to make sure we act with discipline, preparedness and calmness during our actions – elaborated the spokeswoman. D’Escufon also said they ensure their activists don’t damage anything, attack anyone, or provoke police or anyone else. Even their messaging is nonviolent – as opposed to the mass-migration they combat which is producing a population change in France and carrying the threat of Islamist terrorism.
“White lives matter” and “Justice for the victims of anti- white racism” wrote the movement’s banners displayed on the top of a building, last June during a Black Lives Matter protest (which was held illegally).
Antifa members immediately attacked them, while the crowd of twenty- thousand illegal protestors cheered on the attackers, and the police stood by idly watching. In the end, the Génération Identitaire activists were brought in by the police in a barred bus.
– Since Islamist organizations were disbanded, they now want to balance things out – said Thaïs d’Escufon. However, the double standard arises here too: neither the Black Lives Matter protestors nor the Antifa members were threatened by French authorities.
– The Interior Minister wants to be liked by the left
– said the young spokeswoman. – This isn’t the first time they want to disband us, but they can’t find a legal reason – she continued. – If they did manage to do so, we would find a way to go on fighting. We would find a way to keep up the fight for France and Europe against migration – stated d’Escufon. She added: the battle would not end there, they would continue.
The authorities will most definitely continue monitoring the movement, waiting for a chance to find some incriminating evidence in the activist network. But the irony in all of this is that two individuals from the opposing camp haven’t had that much luck with the law. Firstly, an Arab youth who calls himself Acrobate94 – who attacked the Génération Identitaire activists together with Antifa and took down the banner – has been accused of violent crimes. Secondly, Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin himself has gotten mixed up in a similar case. The Minister determined to break up Génération Identitaire has been accused since 2018 of rape, sexual harassment and abuse of trust.
The author is the Editor-in-Chief of the Visegrad Post