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Hundreds march against far-right French presidential hopeful

Demonstrators denounce xenophobia and racism allegedly represented by Marine Le Pen and her anti-immigration party

Protesters against far-right National Front leader and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen hold a banner reading 'fascist' during a protest march from suburban Aubervilliers to Paris, Sunday, April 16, 2017. (AP/Francois Mori)
Protesters against far-right National Front leader and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen hold a banner reading 'fascist' during a protest march from suburban Aubervilliers to Paris, Sunday, April 16, 2017. (AP/Francois Mori)

PARIS — Hundreds of demonstrators in France marched on Sunday to protest far-right National Front leader and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, saying that basic freedoms would disappear if she were elected.

Some protesters threw firebombs at police during the march from suburban Aubervilliers to a Paris neighborhood where Le Pen is scheduled to hold a rally on Monday. Officers responded with tear gas during the small skirmishes.

Fernanda Marrucchelli said Le Pen’s anti-immigration party “is fighting our essential freedoms, our rights, no matter if we are French or immigrant.”

A banner at the front of the march read “Paris-Suburbs Against the National Front.” Marchers also handed out tracts denouncing xenophobia and racism that they allege Le Pen and her anti-immigration party represent.

French presidential election candidate for the far-right Front National (FN) party, Marine Le Pen speaks during a campaign rally in Perpignan on April 15, 2017. (AFP/Raymond Roig)
French presidential election candidate for the far-right Front National (FN) party, Marine Le Pen speaks during a campaign rally in Perpignan on April 15, 2017. (AFP/Raymond Roig)

Anti-racism activist Omar Slauti said the fight against Le Pen should be in the streets, not the ballot box, denouncing the “extreme-right populism” that has spread around Europe.

Le Pen, who wants to pull France out of the European Union, is one of the top contenders in France’s first-round presidential vote on April 23. A presidential runoff is being held May 7 between the top two-vote-getters.

The far-right leader has worked to erase the image of racism and anti-Semitism that for years defined her party. She says she wants to restore a French identity that she claims has been erased by “massive immigration,” mainly from former French colonies in Muslim North Africa.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.

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