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Old 11-09-2005, 01:18 PM
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Default French Far-Right Leader: Riots Only the Start


Far-Right Leader: Riots Only the Start
Nov 09 2:08 PM US/Eastern
By JOHN LEICESTER
Associated Press Writer
Article Source

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PARIS
French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen claimed Wednesday his National Front party has been "submerged" with prospective members and supportive e-mail since rioting erupted in heavily immigrant communities near Paris.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Le Pen described the recent violence as "just the start" of conflicts caused by "massive immigration from countries of the Third World that is threatening not just France but the whole continent."

Le Pen said people with immigrant backgrounds who commit crimes should be stripped of their French nationality and sent "back to their country of origin."

Reminded that the vast majority of youths taking part in the arson and rioting are French, born in France to immigrant parents, he said: "What does that mean? Are they French because they have a French identity card?"

French nationality should be given only to those who ask for it and "who are worthy of it," he said. "Those who got nationality automatically, who don't consider themselves French and who even say publicly that they consider France their enemy should not be treated as French."

Le Pen said he is convinced that what he described as a surge in support for his "zero immigration" platform would translate into votes at the ballot box for his National Front party.

French voters "are saying to themselves 'Le Pen was right. We were told that Le Pen is an extremist because he said that immigration problems would lead to disorder. The facts have shown that he was right,'" he said.

"We are receiving thousands of new members, tens of thousands of e- mails. All of our offices are submerged, we don't know how to respond because we don't have the staff to reply to the wave of people who, 95 percent of them, salute and approve our positions," he added.

Le Pen gave no specifics on the number of new members, but the party's top official for new memberships said the figure was closer to 1,000 and that they were requests to join.

Le Pen stunned many in France and shocked Europe by making it through to the second round of the last presidential elections in 2002. But he was soundly defeated in a runoff against President Jacques Chirac.

Le Pen said he is "more than ever" determined to run again in 2007.

"If there were presidential elections now, my chances would be increased tenfold," he said.



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