100 far-right protesters attack migrant center in French village

FILE PHOTO © Benoit Tessier
Some 100 far-right protesters rallied in the French village of Arzon on Monday night, breaking down the door of the migrant center there. It comes after a sexual assault on a local 67-year-old woman by a South Sudanese refugee.

Police arrested several protesters after they managed to get into the center, and had to stand guard near the building, local newspaper Ouest-France reported.

The demonstration was staged by far-right groups, with few local residents taking part.

It follows confirmation from the regional prosecutor that a 67-year-old local woman had been sexually assaulted by a 16-year-old Sudanese migrant last Thursday. The youth had been staying in the migrant center in the village, moving there after the dismantling of the Calais 'Jungle' camp.

The far-right activists accused the authorities of trying to sweep the incident under the carpet, especially after the prosecutor said that the situation had been exaggerated online.

“The victim was taking the shopping out of her car when she was approached by a young man. In broken English he told her that her house was beautiful. Then he gave her a kiss. After the fifth kiss the woman pushed him back,” prosecutor Francois Touron told Ouest-France.

“The young man, from Sudan, touched the woman’s left breast, but at no point did he expose himself. He made a gesture as if he was masturbating, then ran off quickly,” the official added.

The woman went to police and the migrant was detained and charged with sexual assault. However, the authorities later released him, and he is set to appear in court in March.

“Since Thursday I have been in permanent contact with the local authority and the local police. There has been a complaint and there is an investigation,” the village mayor, Roland Tabart, told Ouest-France.

Thousands of refugees have been taken to various migrant centers across France, following the closure of the notorious Calais ‘Jungle’ camp last month.

As the migrant crisis in the EU continues, far-right powers and groups associated with nationalist sentiment – as well as far-right-leaning protesters – appear to be on the rise across the continent.

Just a few days ago, dozens of Swedes were detained when hundreds of anti- and pro-refugee demonstrators clashed with one another and police in central Stockholm, as a neo-Nazi march was held simultaneously with two massive counter-protests.

Over the weekend, a BBC interview with French right-wing National Front party leader Marine Le Pen led to both outrage and support. Many questioned the choice of politician for the interview, while others said that Le Pen is an important figure in French politics and is also a potential presidential candidate.
According to EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, a greater source of anger – even among officials – is that many refugees refuse to relocate when asked. Several EU governments are ready to take in migrants now living in Greece and Italy but are facing the issue that “there are very few refugees who agree to be relocated,” Juncker said Monday, according to AP.

He called the situation “not acceptable” and “outrageous.”

About a fortnight ago, some 50 suspected far-right extremists organized a “hunt” for refugees in the eastern German town of Bautzen, according to local media. Police denied the incident, and came under fire for an alleged cover-up and inaction.