The axe has fallen! The French government has now formally disbanded Génération Identitaire (Generation Identity or GI). This group, founded just eight years ago, has had a global impact, inspiring sister organizations across Europe and the wider Western world.
GI popularized the very term “identitarian” and pioneered a new type of patriotic activism through spectacular publicity stunts and direct action. This included occupying government buildings and hanging pro-European banners from them, and organizing anti-illegal immigration operations at France’s borders and in the Mediterranean.
With a strong pan-European message and sleek visuals, GI became the “Greenpeace” of patriotic Europeans. It appealed to both local European identities — Flemish or Breton — and to the heritage of Western civilization as a whole. It used the Spartan Lambda as its logo — a tribute to the warriors who stopped the Persians at Thermopylae.
French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin started the banning procedure on February 13, following GI’s latest anti-illegal immigration operation in the Pyrenees along the Franco-Spanish border. GI used vehicles and drones to spot illegals and report them to the police. The group also put up a banner at a power company’s site. The local prefect disliked the operation but had to admit there was “no trouble to public order.”
These operations were apparently too much for Mr. Darmanin, who accused GI of being “violent and dangerous,” engaging in “public incitement of racial hatred,” and “undermining the foundations of our Republic.” The group is also now being sued by the litigious left-wing ethnic activist organization SOS Racisme.
Just last December, the GI organization and three activists — threatened with large fines and imprisonment — were cleared of any wrongdoing by the Grenoble Court of Appeals for a very similar anti-illegal immigration operation held in the Alps in 2018. Emmanuel Macron’s government has banned some Islamist groups to appeal to right-wing voters, and so is almost certainly banning GI to appease the Left.
Thousands of patriots — the media claimed only 1,500 to 2,000 — protested on Saturday, February 20, against the proposed ban, but the measure went through.
GI spokeswoman Thaïs d’Escufon’s reaction:
We represent a majority of French people who are worried about mass immigration. While they can dissolve an association, they cannot dissolve our ideas, nor all those Frenchmen who share our viewpoints. . . . They should rather concern themselves with dissolving the UOIF [Union of Muslim Organizations of France, an influential body running many mosques], this Islamist organization which is the French branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization which is considered to be a terrorist group in many countries.
The official document justifying the ban that Mr. Darmanin presented to the Council of Ministers is very weak, even under France’s broad censorship legislation. Mr. Darmanin charges GI with being “a private militia,” “inciting discrimination, hatred, or violence on grounds of ethnicity or religion,” and “spreading ideas or theories tending to justify or encourage this discrimination, this hatred or this violence.”
Darmanin’s evidence: GI reacted to the gruesome beheading of history teacher Samuel Paty by saying he was “a new victim of the immigration invasion.” The culprit, Abdoullakh Abouyedovich Anzorovm, was a Chechen “refugee” and foreigner on French soil. Mr. Darmanin also cited GI’s assertion, “We refuse that our people continue to be submerged and murdered by this mass immigration.” The interior minister seems to think that opposition to immigration or pointing out its negative consequences is a crime.
GI also points out the connection between immigration and crime, something an interior minister ought to understand very well. France does not publish official statistics on race and crime, but estimates of the Arab/Muslim percentage of the prison population range as high as 60 percent. The ministry officially concedes that although foreigners (of all nationalities) are only 6 percent of the population, they account for 22 percent of prisoners. This figure does not include the large number of Arabs/Muslims who are French citizens.
The ministry also publishes statistics showing that foreigners commit a hugely disproportionate number of crimes on French public transport, including 63 percent of rapes in the Paris region (Ile-de-France).
Here is Mr. Darmanin’s case that GI is a dangerous paramilitary organization:
- Using “martial symbols and rhetoric” such as the Spartan Lambda and posters of Joan of Arc with a Kalashnikov (you can still buy one).
- Wearing GI-blue vests and caps.
- Citing Charles Martel and the Reconquista, which are foundational events in the creation of France.
- Organizing boxing clubs and self-defense classes.
- Saying that “a man exists and is significant only through his clan, his people and his polis [cité].”
- The Christchurch killer donated money to GI — as if the organization could have stopped him.
Western symbols and historical references are not illegal in France, even when they refer to violent events. The French Left evokes the French Revolution, an extremely violent period in French history. The Marseillaise must be one of the world’s most bellicose and bloody national anthems. The entire French political spectrum uses martial rhetoric; Mr. Darnanin uses it himself.
One lawyer noted that the administration’s evidence did not at all meet the normal legal definition of a militia:
- Ranks, uniforms, and martial discipline
- Paramilitary strategies
- Keeping or having access to weapons
- Causing public disorder
Prominent figures who have publicly opposed GI’s banning include right-wing journalist Éric Zemmour, maverick left-wing philosopher Michel Onfray, mainstream journalist François de Closets, lawyer Virginie Pradel, and the conservative politician François-Xavier Bellamy. Many nationalist figures defended GI, not least Marion Maréchal and Jordan Bardella, although it is a sign of the times that Facebook censored their posts about GI.
Needless to say, “journalists” at the hard-left Le Monde were quick to defend the government’s decision to shut down what they called an “extreme-right groupuscule.”
GI leaders will challenge the ban before the Council of State, France’s supreme court. Given the brazenness of the government’s action — amounting to a criminalization of European self-defense and opposition to immigration — the ban could well be overturned. Courts have sided with GI in the past.
The struggle continues!