France: Fatal fascist violence in Paris

An 18-year-old student activist Clement Meric was murdered in Paris in broad daylight, on 5 June, by neo-fascist skinheads. This must be answered by mass mobilisation to halt attempts by the far right to raise its head.

In recent months there have been big parades and demonstrations in France against gay marriage. The reactionary right has made it clear that it is still a mobilising force. Le Pen’s National Front, trying to exploit the growing discontent at the disastrous policies of President François Hollande in the past year, has made more gains at a time when all economic prospects are very gloomy.

More violent far-right groups feel encouraged by these developments and some fascist activists dare to go a step further. The young anti-fascist, Clement Meric, has become one of their victims. On June 5, in central Paris, Clement was brutally assaulted by a group of skinheads and left for dead. The main person accused of the deadly assault was known as a member of the ‘Jeunesses Nationalistes Revolutionaires’ (JNR), an organisation led by Serge Ayoub. He is a notorious French fascist who has also repeatedly come to Belgium to assist the activities of far-right groups like ‘Nation’.

Ayoub first tried to deny that the killers were activists from the JNR, but then adopted a different tone: the young leftists had supposedly begun the fight. However, Serge Ayoub’s JNR is no innocent association. Ayoub himself is nicknamed ‘Batskin’ because he likes to use a baseball bat in confrontations with political opponents.

The group tries to combine violent right-wing extremism with attempts at expressing some ‘social’ arguments. As with other similar groups, their social aspect remains pure rhetoric, while the racism and acts of violence prevail. The Greek ‘Golden Dawn’ is no different; their activities are not directed against those responsible for the crisis, the major shareholders, bankers and other Greek capitalists, but against the victims of this crisis who have another colour of skin or political opinion.

Protest demonstrations

The death of the young French anti-fascist has led to protests and demonstrations in several cities and towns in France and internationally. On Thursday there was a large demonstration of “mourning and anger” in Paris. The Establishment politicians have argued that they are in favour of a ban on neo-Nazi groups that “damage the Republic”. Obviously we are not in favour of providing neo-Nazis with a clear field to practise their activities, but in order to stop them, simple bans will not be sufficient. An active response from the labour movement is needed.

To stop violent neo-fascist groups gaining confidence, mass mobilisation and anti-fascist resistance are needed. The violence of these groups is not supported by broader layers of the population. Answering their meetings and protests through much larger mobilisations would make neo-fascist activities difficult to organise and would stymie their violent political offensive.

We need to oppose, in a systematic way, mobilisations that reinforce divisions in our class, such as homophobic and racist protests. We need to accompany opposing the far right by building a political response that takes up the common interests of working people and poor families. The crisis of capitalism and the pro-establishment parties, with their austerity policies, are creating a greater breeding ground for racism and division in society, and violent groups are stepping in to whip up reaction. A real answer to racism and fascism and the extreme right is not possible if it remains within the framework of the capitalist system which breeds these forces.

We can only rely on our own strength! We must build on a trade union and political level a united struggle against racism and fascism, and lay the foundations for a mass force that fights for an end to the rotten system of capitalism. That is the challenge for the anti-fascists and the labour movement as a whole.

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June 2013