French elections: Descendants of North African immigrants unite in opposition to far proper

On Monday afternoon, in entrance of the Pablo Picasso main college in Nanterre, within the western suburbs of Paris, the state of the electoral billboards revealed the voting development for the primary spherical of the legislative elections which occurred the day earlier than.

On this social housing property of 14,000 inhabitants, primarily of overseas origins, the poster of Sabrina Sebaihi, former deputy and candidate for the inexperienced motion inside the New In style Entrance (NFP), a coalition of left-wing events created after the victory of the far-right Nationwide Rally (RN) within the June European elections, was intact.

The payments of her principal rivals, Isabelle de Crecy and Melina Bravo, respectively candidates for Collectively, the centrist presidential alliance, and the RN, had been half torn off.

“Right here, undoubtedly, virtually everybody voted for the NFP,” Djamel Saifi, a 42-year-old French-Algerian bus driver, informed Center East Eye.

Whereas ready for his youngsters in entrance of the college, he commented extensively on the outcomes of the primary spherical in Nanterre.

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On this working-class metropolis, which till the Sixties was house to one of many largest slums in France, populated by hundreds of Algerian immigrant staff, Sebaihi, herself the daughter of an Algerian employee, gained the primary spherical of the election with 49.13 p.c of the votes.

De Crecy got here second with 29.62 p.c. Each candidates will contest the second spherical set for this Sunday to settle seats the place there was no outright winner.

“Sabrina Sebaihi is on her technique to win the second spherical. However let’s watch out, we by no means know. Certainly, a couple of years in the past, nobody imagined that the far proper would arrive on the gates of energy, however now it’s on the verge of acquiring an absolute majority within the Nationwide Meeting,” Saifi mentioned.

He was disconcerted by the nation-wide victory of the RN within the first spherical of the elections: the occasion obtained 9 million votes in opposition to 4 million on the similar stage of the earlier legislative elections in 2022.

‘We should shield our youngsters’

Nonetheless affected by the historical past of the Algerian battle of independence throughout which two of his great-uncles died as fighters, Saifi regrets {that a} occasion based by a former military officer accused of torturing Algerians, Jean-Marie Le Pen, and former members of the OAS (Secret Military Organisation) – a French far-right paramilitary group which opposed the independence of Algeria with violent means – grew to become so fashionable, whereas additionally entertaining hatred of immigrants and Muslims.

“A French colleague at work admitted to me a couple of days in the past that he would vote RN as a result of [the party’s president] Jordan Bardella was going to revive order within the banlieues as soon as he turns into prime minister,” Saifi added.

‘If we don’t handle to swing into motion to reverse the development and supply a victory to the New In style Entrance, France will likely be misplaced and us with it’

– Nadia Sebaoui, left-wing activist

The bus driver fears a rise in police violence if the far proper takes energy.

A yr in the past, the loss of life of Nahel Merzouk, a 17-year-old French-Algerian killed by a police officer for refusing to conform throughout a roadside test, plunged Nanterre and several other cities throughout the nation into chaos after a collection of riots.

The killing occurred on Nelson Mandela Sq., a couple of hundred meters from the Pablo Picasso college, subsequent to the place Merzouk lived.

Final Saturday, for the primary anniversary of his loss of life, Mounia Merzouk, his mom, organised a white march attended by a whole lot of individuals.

Addressing the gang, she reminded individuals of the significance of casting their poll.

“You understand what’s occurring tomorrow, get up, we now have to keep away from deaths. We should shield our youngsters,” she informed demonstrators whereas demanding justice for Nahel.

Nadia Sebaoui, a 26-year-old activist for the left-wing France Unbowed occasion who participated within the gathering, thinks that an RN victory within the present local weather, marked by the rise of racist hatred, would make the police much more repressive.

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“Because of this we completely should go to the polls in nice numbers within the second spherical to dam the RN the place it’s nonetheless attainable,” she informed MEE on the outskirts of the Pablo Picasso property.

In 315 electoral districts throughout France (out of 577), no candidate has secured a majority.

In Mantes-la-Ville, a city near Nanterre the place Sebaoui handed out leaflets forward of the primary spherical, a showdown will happen between the NFP contender, who got here first with 44.92 p.c of the votes, and the RN candidate (30.97 p.c).

“If we don’t handle to swing into motion to reverse the development and supply a victory to the New In style Entrance, France will likely be misplaced and us with it,” the activist warned.

A reminder of ‘the darkest moments in French historical past’

Sebaoui was nonetheless shocked by Bardella’s newest marketing campaign promise to bar twin nationals from sure state jobs.  

“This coverage jogs my memory of the darkest moments in French historical past when the Vichy authorities [collaborating with the Nazi occupiers] printed a decree in 1940 on the standing of Jews which specified the professions which had been prohibited to them,” she mentioned.

Mhamed Kaki, president of Les Oranges, a neighborhood organisation that goals to lift consciousness concerning the historical past of the Algerian immigration in France, shared these considerations and recalled one other darkish web page of France’s historical past.

‘We should rally in order that younger individuals in our neighbourhoods are usually not thought of second-class residents and in addition to honour the reminiscence of our elders who sacrificed themselves to construct France’

– Mhamed Kaki, president of Les Oranges

“In the course of the colonisation of Algeria, the French state additionally established a Code de l’indigénat [‘code of indigenous people’] which didn’t enable Algerians to take pleasure in all of the citizenship rights,” he informed MEE.

For Kaki, a attainable RN victory within the legislative elections is “a state of affairs of very severe endangerment” for individuals from immigrant backgrounds.

He fears a big switch of votes from the appropriate and the presidential alliance in direction of the RN within the second spherical.

“It’s due to [president Emmanuel] Macron anyway that the far proper is on the rise. He laid the groundwork with insurance policies of rejection of foreigners and French Muslims,” Kaki mentioned.

In 2021, the parliament handed the “regulation consolidating the ideas of the republic”, pushed ahead by Macron to struggle “Islamist separatism”, and accused by its detractors of being discriminatory in opposition to Muslims.

And earlier this yr, his authorities adopted a controversial invoice aimed toward toughening immigration measures, with the jubilant endorsement of the Nationwide Rally.

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“Macron additionally labored to demonise the left due to its assist for Palestine. It’s shameful,” he added. France Unbowed’s pro-Palestinian positions, notably since Israel’s battle on Gaza started in October, have attracted accusations that the occasion is antisemitic, which it forcefully denies.

At 64, Kaki, who spent a part of his childhood within the shantytown of Nanterre, doesn’t admit defeat. With activists from his affiliation, he’s visiting a number of working-class neighbourhoods within the Paris area this week to ask residents to vote on Sunday.

“We should rally in order that younger individuals in our neighbourhoods are usually not thought of second-class residents and in addition to honour the reminiscence of our elders who sacrificed themselves to construct France,” he mentioned, recalling that within the Seventies, dozens of North African staff had been killed in racist assaults.

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