Nearly 3,000 Parisians yesterday marched to protest the French government’s plans to rehouse migrants squatting in Calais to a chic suburb of the capital.
Organised by the centre-right Les Republicains (LR) party, residents of the affluent French town of Louveciennes and neighbouring settlements marched from the town hall to the 24-hectare site where state officials plan to rehouse a rumoured 1,600 migrants from the so-called “jungle” camp.
Just two banners were authorised to head the procession, the main one urging the government to “listen to elected officials and residents”.
— LCI (@LCI) October 3, 2016
Le Parisien reported that the atmosphere at the march was “white-hot”, with opposition to the camp fierce. A woman in her sixties named Mary said: “Migrants are sent by Daesh and want to Islamise France.”
— Damien Rieu (@DamienRieu) October 2, 2016
Louveciennes mayor Pierre-Fraçois Viard stated his firm opposition to the arrangements, but was booed and heckled as a “collaborator” when he pledged to work for “the dignity of migrants”.
Cries of “collaborator” greeted a number of politicians whose stance on migrants was deemed insufficiently firm by demonstrators.
Pierre Lequiller, a National Assembly member, said he was not opposed to housing migrants nearby in general but feared the proposed site could be unsafe with poor facilities.
Upon declaring: “We are opposed to the choice of land, it is not a principled opposition to the reception of migrants”, the centre-right figure was met with a chorus of boos.
The march was organised by local government figures from the LR party. Forty elected officials, from LR and Front National, attended and marched wearing tricolour flag sashes.
— Karim Ouchikh (@OuchikhKarim) October 2, 2016
The site marked to become a migrant centre is just 20 minutes’ drive from the iconic Palace of Versailles. Last week president François Hollande confirmed that the government will be dismantling the so-called “jungle” migrant camp in Calais.
People living outside of the cities in France have largely responded with hostility to the news that migrants are to be resettled in their regions. In Normandy, it emerged a former mayor is suing residents of the town he used to represent for “incitement to racial hatred” after he spotted posters complaining that the resettlement of migrants nearby will bring crime and antisocial behaviour.