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The fatal stabbing of a French teenager at a village dance billed by some politicians as an “anti-White” crime prompted mass protests across the countryside over the weekend.
As a result, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin on Tuesday called for a crackdown on three far-right groups he blames for fueling violent clashes against police in response to the deadly Nov. 19 attack on a 16-year-old French rugby player, identified as Thomas, outside a village dance in Crépol.
Speaking to a France Inter broadcaster, Darmanin said he would aim to shut down Division Martel and two other unnamed groups, claiming that those “far-right militias” are seeking “to attack Arabs, people with different skin colors, speak of their nostalgia for the Third Reich,” according to reports by the BBC and The Guardian. “I will propose that a number of small groups are wound up,” Darmanin said, praising French police for dealing firmly with demonstrators to avoid an “Irish-style scenario.”
“I will let no militia, be they extreme-right or whatever radical movement [try to substitute themselves] for the law instead of the prosecutor and police,” Darmanin said, claiming there’s been a mobilization of the extreme-right who are seeking to “tip the country into civil war.”
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People march behind a banner which reads “Thomas, in our hearts forever” in Romans-sur-Isere, southeastern France on Nov. 22, 2023, as they take part in a “Marche Blanche” (White March) to pay tribute to the teen stabbing victim. (OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE/AFP via Getty Images)
Since 2017, he said, French intelligence services have thwarted 13 violent projects by ultra-right groups.
During a visit to Crépol, in southeastern France, on Monday, a spokesman for President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist government acknowledged that Thomas’ death was likely the result of more than just a “simple fight at a village dance” but stressed that people should “not to answer violence with violence,” according to reports by the BBC and France 24.
“It’s up to the judiciary to render justice. Not for the French public themselves,” spokesman Olivier Veran warned.
Valence public prosecutor Laurent de Caigny said that nine of the more than 100 witnesses interviewed after the deadly brawl reported hearing remarks aimed against “White people,” according to France 24, but fell short of confirming a racial motivation for the stabbing as the investigation continues.
“No one can take justice into their own hands outside the law,” de Caigny warned, calling for investigators to be allowed to work, “given the extreme seriousness of the facts.”
Bunches of flowers are displayed in front of the reception hall in Crepol, southeastern France on Nov. 22, 2023, where Thomas, a teenager, was stabbed to death. (OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE/AFP via Getty Images)
“Those who oppose it with illegitimate violence will answer,” de Caigny reportedly said.
In addition to Thomas’ death, reports say between nine and 18 others were wounded on Nov. 19.
Unconfirmed accounts allege migrants arrived by car from nearby housing projects to attack dance-goers.
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Nine people, including three minors and others between the ages of 19 and 22, were taken into custody in connection to Thomas’ stabbing, as prosecutors sought an investigation into charges including attempted murder and “murder in an organized gang,” according to reports.
People gather in Romans-sur-Isere, southeastern France on Nov. 22, 2023 during a “Marche Blanche” (White March) to pay tribute to Thomas. (OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE/AFP via Getty Images)
“This is not a nightclub brawl or a simple ‘brawl.’ This is anti-white racism. It is time to answer them firmly before life in France becomes hell,” Marion Maréchal, the leading European election candidate for the far-right Reconquête party – run by former TV pundit and presidential candidate Eric Zemmour – wrote on X.
Maréchal added, “Now anti-white racism is hitting our countryside.”
In an interview with French TV, Jordan Bardella, the president of Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party, considered the largest single opposition party in French parliament, said Thomas’ stabbing shows the “daily terror lived by millions of French people and millions of parents who are worried about their children going out on the streets in France because they know they risk being attacked.”
Members of the RC Romans-Peage rugby club in Romans-sur-Isere, southeastern France on Nov. 22, 2023, lead a march to pay tribute to Thomas. (OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE/AFP via Getty Images)
In connection to demonstrations, about two dozen people were arrested Saturday and Sunday in Romans-sur-Isère after several police officers were injured in clashes.
Six of those suspects, between the ages of 18 and 25, were fast-tracked before a judge and given sentences of between six and 10 months in prison for allegedly planning violence, according to The Guardian. The police prefect in the Drôme said demonstrators had descended on the town to confront young people from the La Monnaie neighborhood, where some of the suspects in Thomas’ death are believed to have come from.
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“When you come with sticks, you don’t come to defend a cause, you come to attack,” prosecutor Vanina Lepaul-Ercole reportedly said of those six demonstrators convicted.
More than 6,000 people marched to the southeastern town of Romans-sur-Isere, where Thomas reportedly also attended high school, in memory of the slain teenager on Wednesday. More than 2,000 people reportedly attended Thomas’ funeral in Saint-Donat-sur-l’Herbasse on Friday.
Danielle Wallace is a reporter for Fox News Digital covering politics, crime, police and more. Story tips can be sent to [email protected] and on Twitter: @danimwallace.