French opposition to Trump’s war on Syria, xenophobia

This French 9 April 2017 video is about a pro-peace meeting by French leftist presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon. 70,000 people were present. Mélenchon denounced war and NATO; and commemorated the refugees drowning in the Mediterranean.

By Alex Lantier in France:

Mélenchon gains in French presidential polls after Trump’s strike on Syria

11 April 2017

Last week’s US missile strike on Syria is shaking up the French presidential campaign, as international events again intervene to shift the poll numbers of the leading candidates.

Right-wing candidate and former favorite François Fillon has collapsed since he was targeted on corruption charges in January after calling for a Paris-Berlin-Moscow axis against Washington. For a time, the race was dominated by neo-fascist candidate Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron, a former banker and economy minister backed by the ruling Socialist Party (PS) and supported by Berlin. He is calling for deep austerity and a revival of the military draft. Now, both Le Pen and Macron are fading after the Syrian strike and last week’s presidential debate.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a former PS minister and leader of the Left Front who is now heading up the Rebellious France (France insoumise) campaign, is rising in the polls, from 12 to 18 percent, overtaking Fillon. PS candidate Benoît Hamon has said he would endorse Mélenchon in the second round. Were Hamon’s voters (9-10 percent) to vote for Mélenchon, he would easily qualify for the run-off, facing either Macron or Le Pen for the presidency in the second round of voting.

The most significant aspect of Mélenchon’s rise in the polls is the fact that it is in response to his criticisms of war and the pervasive anti-Muslim sentiment stoked by the PS under France’s state of emergency, as well as by Le Pen‘s National Front (FN). Mélenchon held an election rally over the weekend in Marseille that attracted 70,000 people, according to organizers. He devoted much of his speech to criticizing war and the abuse of refugees.

Mélenchon attacked Trump and European leaders, including French President François Hollande, who have supported the strike on Syria. “I am the candidate of peace,” he said.

“Remember these days when you go vote, these people went behind him to hail Trump’s intervention, which has no foundation, no international legitimacy, which was done by a single person and could drag you into a war,” Mélenchon declared to applause from the crowd. “Think well about it: if you want peace, do not pick the wrong ballot in the voting booth. If you choose one for war, do not be surprised it war finally comes to you.”

He also referred to the drownings of thousands of refugees fleeing the war in Syria in the Mediterranean due to the callous and reactionary anti-migrant policies of the European Union. “Good sea, how is possible that you have become the graveyard of 30,000 people who perished under the waves?” he asked, observing a minute of silence for the dead, and adding, “Listen all of you, that is the silence of death.”

On the stirring up of hatred against immigrants, Mélenchon said that it is “up to us to reply that emigration is always a forced exile, it is suffering.”

The surge in support for Mélenchon reflects deep opposition within broad sections of the population to PS policies of war, austerity and appeals to racist and law-and-order sentiment. That these sentiments are coming to the fore refutes the narrative that the rise of the FN reflects a constant and accelerating shift to the right by an irredeemably racist French population. In fact, powerful left-wing, socialistic sentiments exist, above all in the working class, though they have been suppressed throughout Hollande’s presidency.

Five years of war and austerity under Hollande and 17 months of a state of emergency have produced an explosive social and political crisis. A poll last year found that two-thirds of the French population believes that class struggle is a daily reality of life. Despite constant official appeals to anti-Islamic hatred under the state of emergency imposed after terror attacks in 2015 in Paris, there is powerful opposition to nationalism.

After last year’s mass protests against the Socialist Party’s regressive labor law, there have been protests and riots this year against police brutality, including the police rape of Théo in Aulnay-sous-Bois and the murder of Liu Shaoyo in Paris.

On the murder of Liu Shaoyo, see also here.

It looks there is in France now a movement similar to the rise of Bernie Sanders in the USA, and of Jeremy Corbyn in Britain.

This is a 2 April 2017 French video about media manipulation on the election meetings of Macron and Mélenchon.

Further militarisation of the conflict in Syria won’t bring peace. Dutch Socialist Party Member of Parliament Sadet Karabulut is deeply concerned about the American attack on Syria: here.

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