Generation Identity: France closes an extreme right-wing group | Investigation News

Anti-migrant group, whose members were convicted of violence, disbanded after years of stunts and hate speech.

France shut down Generation Identity (GI) some eight years after the far-right anti-migrant group rose to prominence in the country by occupying a mosque in Poitiers – the first of many stunts.

In a tweet on Wednesday containing images of the government decree, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the group had incited “discrimination, hatred and violence”.

The push to shut down the group follows an undercover operation by the Al Jazeera Investigative Unit in 2018, which exposed the group’s racism, violence and ties to the Marine Le National Rally party. Pen.

Génération Identitaire, the French name of the Lyon group, militates to “defend the identity and culture of white Europeans” and denounces what it calls the “great replacement” by immigration and “Islamization”.

In 2017, GI was behind the “Defend Europe” stunt which saw far-right activists embark on the Mediterranean Sea in an attempt to block refugee rescue operations.

GI was founded in France and has branches in Italy, Austria and Germany, although the number of its members has reportedly declined in recent years.

A letter dated February 11 from the French Ministry of the Interior to the president of the GI details the reasons for the group’s dissolution.

According to the letter, the Al Jazeera investigation, called Generation hatred, “Revealed the reality of this organization” where the members “rejoiced at the assault of a woman of North African origin”.

The letter accused GI of “overtly hateful rhetoric” which “contributes to increasing tensions within the national community” and “provokes violent attacks”.

Three members of the GI sentenced

Al Jazeera’s investigative unit had infiltrated the group’s Lille branch, one of the most active GI sections in France, and involved its powerful leader Aurélien Verhassel.

An undercover journalist grabbed Remi Falize, a senior GI member, on camera declaring his “last wish” to drive a car in an area crowded with Muslims. He was also filmed hitting a 13-year-old girl four times on the head outside a bar in Lille. A week later, he was seen inside the Lille GI headquarters celebrating the assault.

In December 2020, Falize was found guilty of inciting “terrorism” and assault. He was sentenced to an eight-month suspended prison sentence.

GI’s Etienne “Le Roux” Vanhalwyn, who was filmed pushing a teenage boy and raising Nazi toast, was given a five-month suspended sentence for 18 months.

Guillaume Dumont St Priest, who pepper sprayed the teenager struck by Falize, was sentenced to three months in prison.

Links to Marine Le Pen

In the aftermath of the investigation, the group distanced itself from Verhassel, claiming that he was no longer a member of their movement.

Verhassel, however, insisted he was still a member.

During a press conference, Verhassel claimed that the Al Jazeera documentary was based on “passing visitors” who were not linked to the group’s “militant base”.

Al Jazeera also revealed evidence of close ties between GI activists and key figures from Le Pen’s National Front, France’s most prominent far-right political party, which has since changed its name to Le Rassemblement. national.

Two members of the European Parliament, Christelle Lechevalier and Sylvie Goddyn, express their support for GI.

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