Last Saturday, in the aftermath of the village-ball attack in the south of France which took the life of 16 year-old Thomas Perrotto, dozens of protesters, chanting “Justice for Thomas” but also “Islam out of Europe”, attempted to march on the Arab migrant neighbourhood from which many of the assailants are reported to have come, leading to clashes with both French security forces and locals. The protestors, described as “ultra-Right” by French officials and the French media, reportedly came armed with “iron bars, sticks and fireworks”, but clearly got the worse of it.
One protestor is known to have been abducted by local residents, stripped naked and beaten, being left in critical condition.
The clashes took place in Romans-sur-Isère, some 10 miles from the village of Crépol where the village-ball attack occurred. The protestors were attempting to reach the La Monnaie housing projects. Many of the assailants involved in the Crépol attack are reportedly residents of La Monnaie.
A tweet by the prefecture of the Drôme region put the total number of protestors at 80, describing them as having tried to “invade” [envahir] La Monnaie, and announcing a large police mobilisation and 20 arrests.
The use of the term “invade” sparked numerous bewildered and outraged replies, such as the following from X-user ‘VeryBadMoFo’:
They invaded a neighbourhood? Is this a joke? Can you explain to us why these young people did not have the right to enter this neighbourhood? Is it supposed be a foreign territory governed by its own laws? Is that why your cops never go in there?
La Monnaie is reputed to be one of France’s many ‘no-go zones’, which are largely controlled by local drug traffickers and gangs and which the police are reluctant to enter.
Remarkably, within just two days of the events, on Monday, six of the ultimately 24 “ultra-Right” protestors arrested would already be sentenced to prison terms of from six to 10 months! It should be noted that none of the suspects arrested in connection with the Crépol attack have yet to be charged.
Moreover, no arrests have even been announced in connection with the abduction and assault of the 20-year-old protestor who, per the local newspaper the Dauphiné libéré, was “beaten with a golf club, stabbed in the hand and burned with cigarettes by some fifteen individuals in the La Monnaie neighbourhood”, before reportedly being found naked and unconscious by other residents.
According to the Dauphiné libéré, the six convicted “ultra-Right” protestors include a philosophy student at the prestigious Sorbonne in Paris, as well as a soldier, an intern in mechanical engineering and a software developer.
Numerous video clips and still images documenting the events in Romans have been circulating on social media, both on accounts sympathetic to the protestors and accounts hostile to them. Most of the imagery appears to have originally emerged on the latter.
Video of the protestors carrying a banner reading “Justice for Thomas – Neither Forget, Nor Forgive” while chanting “Islam Out of Europe!” can be viewed here.
Video available here appears to show the protestors being pursued by a unit of France’s CRS special forces.
Cellphone video which appears to show the 20 year-old protestor who was abducted can be viewed here. The commentator remarks: “This is how the fachos [fascists] end up. Stripped naked.”
The below two images appear to show the same young man. The first caption reads: “Islam out of Europe big SOB you want to come lay a finger on our brothers with your gang of pigs lie down don’t move SOB”.
The second caption reads: “Abandoned by his pals who came to ‘kill some Arab’.”
Video which appears to show the young man immediately after his ‘capture’ is available here. One of his abductors can be seen brandishing a golf club.
While the designation “ultra-Right” is not very informative – why is ‘far’ not enough? – there is little question that the protests drew support from France’s so-called ‘identitarian’ movement, which attempts to affirm a native French or native European identity and is openly hostile to Islam.
There have long been fears of civil-war-like conditions emerging in France, pitting ‘identitarian’ nationalists against Islamist forces. Several works of recent French fiction depict such a scenario: most famously, Michel Houellebecq’s Submission, but also the pseudonymous Franck Poupart’s untranslated Demain Les Barbares (Tomorrow, the Barbarians).
In the aftermath of the events in Romans, French Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin proudly declared that France had avoided a “small civil war”. But in the meantime there have already been two copycat protests in Rennes and Lyon, with protestors again chanting “Justice for Thomas” and “Islam out of Europe”, as well as singing the French national anthem, ‘The Marseillaise’.
Numerous commentators, even in relatively mainstream French media, have expressed their concern that if the French Government does not act more vigorously, not just against the “ultra-Right”, but against the criminality, violence and hate emanating from no-go zones like La Monnaie, a larger civil war is still on the horizon.