LYON, France. There’s no doubt that a right wing French group known for activism and large doses of populist policies doesn’t like journalists or the establishment these days in France.
Leading French figures who once hailed from both pro-France groups are donning suits and taking on roles in Le Pen’s bid for victory in France’s two-round April 23-May 7 presidential election.
French populist and now Presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen may not personally know the “black rats,” as GUD members call themselves. She also many not individually know their right leaning brothers down the cobblestone street in old Lyon, the militants of Identity Generation, whose speeches and shock tactics have a strong following.
The populist activists of Identity Generation and GUD – which have no known formal links to each other and different ideologies – share a common fear that immigrants will take over France and Europe, uprooting Western civilization. They have a dedicated desire to erase all traces of Islam from French soil, where an estimated 5 million Muslims live.
Some observers note an ideological compatibility between the National Front and the identity movement, said Sylvain Crepon, a leading far-right expert. Le Pen must show party members that she remains an anti-establishment figure even as she runs for the French presidency.
France’s far-larger identity movement is known for holding sausage-and-wine street fetes – items forbidden to Muslims – famously organized a “march of pigs” in Lyon in 2011 and once occupied a mosque’s roof in Poitiers, where invading Muslim armies were stopped in the 8th century.
Recently Marine Le Pen unveiled her 144-point presidential manifesto in Lyon. France’s third-largest city which captures the identity theme that is a pillar of her program and now serves as a base for France’s future, once Le Pen is elected.