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Lebanon's 'Soldiers of God' endorse Le Pen in French elections

Lebanese extremist Christian group endorses Marine Le Pen as 'Soldier of God' in French elections
3 min read
24 June, 2024
An extremist Christian group in Lebanon, known as "Soldiers of God" (Jnoud el-Rab), declared its support for French right-wing leader Marine Le Pen.
Lebanon's Jnoud el-Rab' (Soldiers of God) reportedly endorse the leader of the far-right National Rally (NR) party [Getty]

An extremist Christian militia in Lebanon has proclaimed the far-right French leader Marie Le Pen as a "soldier of God", declaring their support for her in the upcoming elections.

The paramilitary group, who call themselves 'Jnoud el-Rab' (Soldiers of God) and say they are guided "by the word of Christ", celebrated Le Pen's victory in the European elections earlier this month and expressed hope for her success in France.

"The far right wins the European elections and Marie Le Pen announces her readiness to take power in France. Change is coming..." the group posted on its official account on X.

The group's members are mostly bearded, tattooed men whose social media profiles are dotted with Christian iconography and symbols. The group's logo is a picture of the wings of an angel and a shield decorated with a red cross, all sitting above a bible.

The group has consistently gone after Lebanon's LGBTQ+ community, accusing it of "promoting homosexuality" and "endangering" family values in Lebanon.

The far-right movement's followers, estimated to number around 150, reportedly endorsed the leader of the far-right National Rally (NR) party amid dissatisfaction with President Macron's support for LGBTQ+ rights.

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The group first emerged as a neighbourhood watch group in Achrafieh, Beirut, claiming to patrol for security amid Lebanon's 2019 economic crisis.

In June 2022, its members defaced a billboard in Achrafieh, which was decorated with flowers and an LGBTQI+ rainbow flag. 

The group is also virulently anti-refugee, claiming to protect its community from Syrian and Palestinian refugees.

Last year, its members recorded themselves carrying out an attack on a bar for allegedly "promoting homosexuality", beating up people who tried to leave the premises and threatening the owner with more violence.

In 2019, the group also attacked the renowned Lebanese indie rock band Mashrou' Leila, whose lead singer, Hamed Sinno, is openly gay, threatening the band with violence if they performed in the Byblos International Festival.

In France, which is home to some 250,000 citizens of Lebanese origin, the far-right RN party and its allies are seen as leading the first round of the country's parliamentary elections with 35.5 percent of the vote, according to a poll published on Sunday.

The Ipsos survey - conducted for Le Parisien newspaper and Radio France on June 19-20 - showed the left-wing New Popular Front (NPF) alliance in second place with 29.5 percent of the vote.

President Macron's centrist alliance was seen in third place, winning 19.5 percent of votes.

Lebanon's French-language daily L'Orient-Le Jour reported that the country's minority citizens in France had also shown preference to the RN party leader, citing Macron's inaction in Lebanon and Gaza as a reason.

Political analyst Karim Émile Bitar told the paper that the absence of traditional conservative candidates like Jacques Chirac and Dominique de Villepin had complicated choices for Franco-Lebanese voters, some of whom now consider "extreme right options".

The polls will take place in two rounds, the first set on 30 June and the second on 7 July.

The turnout rate is seen at between 60 and 64 percent, which would be much higher than the 47.5 percent seen at the last general election in June 2022.