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French police on high alert for first rally by far-right candidate Zemmour

French far-right media pundit Eric Zemmour speaks to members of London's French community at the ILEC Conference Centre in west London, November 19, 2021. (Tolga Akmen/AFP)
French far-right media pundit Eric Zemmour speaks to members of London's French community at the ILEC Conference Centre in west London, November 19, 2021. (Tolga Akmen/AFP)

French far-right presidential candidate Eric Zemmour will hold his first official campaign rally at a stadium outside Paris on Sunday, with police on high alert over the risk of clashes with protesters.

Zemmour, a 63-year-old author and television pundit — the son of Jewish immigrants to France — announced Tuesday that he would run in next April’s election, joining the field of challengers seeking to unseat centrist President Emmanuel Macron.

“It’s incredible the level of enthusiasm, while other candidates have been in half-empty rooms,” Antoine Diers, a spokesman for the Friends of Eric Zemmour group, told AFP on Friday. “We’re expecting a lot of people.”

Around 19,000 people have signed up for the event, according to Zemmour’s campaign, leading him to swap a concert hall for a larger capacity exhibition space in the Villepinte suburb northeast of the capital.

Police are on alert for far-left activists and anarchists who disrupted Zemmour’s trip last weekend to the southern of port city of Marseille, which ended with the candidate showing the middle finger to a woman who was protesting.

Around 50 trade union and civil society groups have also called for a demonstration in Paris to denounce Zemmour, an anti-Islam and anti-immigration polemicist who is sometimes called “France’s Trump” and has two convictions for hate speech.

Several thousand people are expected to gather.

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