70 years later is France again “occupied”?
As President Nicolas Sarkozy and members of his cabinet flew to London to participate in celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of L’Appel du 18 Juin – which stiffened French resistance in 1940 to Nazi German occupation – rightwing groups across France staged flashmob “Sausage and Booze” Apéros to protest at a more recent “occupation”.
Facebook-organised flashmobs in Lyon, Toulouse, Lille, Nantes, Rennes, Valence, Amiens and Douai urged their followers to show support for a banned “saucisson et pinard” Apéro Géant or Mass “Sausage and Booze” Street Aperitif originally scheduled for Friday 18th June at dusk in Paris’ Goutte-d’Or quartier near Montmartre, where Muslims occupy the street in front a local mosque for weekly prayers.
The protestors were backed by smaller manifs in Brussels where a “sausage and beer cocktail was held and in London where it became a ” bacon and beer” booze-up.
The video reportage below eloquently reflects the extent of the takeover of the public thoroughfare every Friday evening. But it goes on to explain that the Muslim residents, overwhelmingly from former French African colonies, have failed to persuade local authorities to grant permission for a mosque large enough to accommodate all their followers.
Confronted by a formal ban imposed by the Paris Prefecture of Police, the Goutte-d’Or flashmobbers moved the event to the Place de l’Etoile, at the corner of Avenue des Champs-Elysees, the place where, their news release noted, “2000 pupils and students had the courage to come together to challenge Nazi occupiers on November 11, 1940,” and remixed it as a “sausage and grape juice” cocktail.
According to the police some 800 people dropped in for the very public Etoile cocktail and despite vociferous and outraged media-fuelled complaints by leftwing groups, there were no reported incidents.
LEXPRESS described the nationwide flashmobbing as stirrings by the “extreme-right” and said the “groupuscules” — a derisory term normally employed to belittle opponents on the far right or the far left depending on where you are reporting from — included: Riposte Laïque, a secular group opposing Islamic extremists, and rightwing groups – Novopress and Bloc Identitaire.
Corentin Chauvel in a 20minutes.fr report, delving deeper into the origins of the Rue Myrha flashmob — the formerly social Apéro Géant flashmobs that have taken major towns and cities around France by storm over the past 18 months appear for the moment, to have mutated into a vehicle for political protest — says: The originator of this initiative, a person identified as “Sylvie Francois” has been organising the event on a Facebook flashmob page since late May. She justifies her campaign by saying that “Rue Myrha and other streets in the neighbourhood are occupied, especially on Fridays, by committed opponents of our national wines – vins de terroir – and our famous charcuterie”.
Days before the apéritif was due, nearly 7,000 members had registered on the Facebook page and promised to attend.
Earlier on June 9, the organisers filed a notification at Paris police headquarters of their plan for a “Mass Picnic for Parisian Urchins” — «Pique-nique géant des Titis parisiens». This says Corentin Chauvel, was a front for the plans of the extreme right and the secular anti Islamists to stage an anti-Islam protest linked to the symbolically important 70th anniversary of L’Appel du 18.
The stated goal of the protestors, the report claims, was to resist the “Islamic fascist offensive” and according to Jean-Yves Camus a political scientist who studies the extreme right, “to tap into the media buzz” . Among the supporters of the event were 30 ideologically-related groups: extreme right (Bloc Identitaire, Les Jeunes pour la France), flexible ideology (Bivouac ID, Projet Apache, les Titis parisiens), Gaullism (Union du peuple français, Union gaulliste), secularism (iposte Laïque, Résistance républicaine) and anti-Islam (Comité Lépante, Observatoire de l’islamisation).
The Riposte Laïque movement was created by ultra-secular activists who are “to the left of the left” says Jean-Yves Camus. Initially intended as “focus on the expression of religion,” Riposte Laïque has for several years had a “fixation on Islam and the Islamisation of France,” he says.
“We are not very far apart from what is happening in the Netherlands,” Jean-Yves Camus said. Gert Wilders, the populist leader of the PVV, made a significant breakthrough in the recent Dutch general election with a political discourse that mixed anti-Islamic views with the economic and social positions of the left. In France, this approach has sown ” some confusion among the secularists”. He added: “There is much more of this to come, there will be other similar initiatives.”
As the French president and his party arrived in London for the start of what will be several weeks of events to mark de Gaulle, the Free French and 1940, it was probably too much to expect that war historians would not seize the opportunity to insist that de Gaulle was not “the unblemished hero” the 70th anniversary celebrations seek to portray him as. A particularly curmudgeonly account was this one by historian Andrew Roberts author ofThe Storm Of War published by Penguin at £10.99.”
Story: Ken Pottinger