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Orly shooting; Metz rally

Le Pen rallies thousands in Metz promising border ‘filter’

Marine Le Pen held a regional meeting in the French citu of Metz on Saturday, five weeks ahead of the first round of the presidential elections awaiting France.

Published: March 19, 2017, 6:41 am

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    The meeting attracted the middle class, to reassure them that the 160 000 frontier workers in the eastern part of the country have nothing to fear from border control.

    The FN candidate knows she still has to convince the undecided. In Metz, close to Germany and Luxembourg, she assured them that she would not close the country’s borders completely.

    At the Grand Est meeting in the Arena of Metz (Moselle), before 3 500 participants, Le Pen vowed not to close the borders but to apply a “filter” without specifying its mechanism.

    “The border is not a wall, it is a filter. A filter limits the passage of that which is bad but it lets pass through that which is good,” she said. The FN candidate wanted to reassure frontier workers that the eastern border would be “filtered”, an argument that appeals particulary to the French middle class.

    Speaking to an overcrowded audience, Le Pen promised to: “restore power to the people”, to “restore order ” and to “give their money back to the French”.

    “It is the only candidate who is interested in the average French worker,” one attendee remarked to France Bleu. Another told Le Point that the Fillon scandal known as #Penelopegate, involving the former prime minister’s wife receiving favours, had opened his eyes.

    Le Pen also grilled the government over its “laxness” in allowing a shooting incident to happen at the Orly airport, after Ziyed Ben Belgacem, a 39-year-old Muslim with a long list of criminal convictions, assaulted a police officer and then attempted to grab the gun of a soldier inside the airport. Belgacem was shot dead in the altercation.

    “I want the state to take charge of ensuring safety for the French,” Le Pen, who has repeatedly warned of the dangers of militant Islam. “The French will not be protected by people who refuse to face up to reality.”

    “The government is behind-the-times, bewildered, and paralyzed like a rabbit caught in headlights,” said Le Pen.

    “France is overwhelmed by violence, the consequence of the laxity of successive governments,” she had tweeted earlier.

    Bernard Cazeneuve, the Socialist Interior Minister, told AFP that Le Pen’s criticisms were “excessive,” and that “dignity” ought to be maintained.

    Le Pen was advancing her support with the middle class. During the rally, she promised that she would “return their money to the French”, promising to nationalise the motorways, as well as reimburse health costs.

    Her usual anti-immigration discourse was most applauded, however. The public responded in chorus: “We are at home, we are at home!”.

    A protest opposing the National Front was also organised on Saturday on the sidelines of the rally held by the leading presidential candidate. Ultra-left-wing activists called for mobilisation against Le Pen, to “remind everyone that the fascists will never be welcome on the workers’ lands of The Moselle,” according to a statement from the CNT (National Confederation of Labor) Moselle.

    The organisers of this event, which was to be held at the Place de la Republique, called on “trade unionists, workers, the unemployed, retirees, students” to reaffirm that “the Front National, which presents itself as an anti-system, benefits from the work of the popular classes to fill their pockets”.

    “Immigrants” and “undocumented” were also “invited” to demonstrate on Saturday against the arrival of the presidential candidate.

    The rally at the Arena of Metz is one of the ten major regional meetings that Le Pen will hold before the first round.

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