Paris extreme-right leader held by police over Zemmour rally violence
French police were on Wednesday holding the leader of a Paris extreme-right movement on suspicion of being behind violence against anti-racism activists at the rally of far-right presidential candidate Eric Zemmour earlier this month.
Marc de Cacqueray-Valmenier, leader of the so-called Zouaves Paris which takes its name from elite units of French troops who fought in Africa in the 19th century, was detained on Tuesday, a French police source told AFP, asking not to be named.
The arrest comes after France's Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin announced at the weekend he would seek a formal order to ban the Zouaves Paris, who were formed in 2018 in succession to the GUD, a former extreme-right student union.
De Cacqueray-Valmenier had been identified by several media on footage showing aggression to activists from SOS Racisme at the 5 December rally by Zemmour shortly after the controversial pundit announced his candidacy for 2022 presidential elections.
Zemmour is accused by opponents of being a racist, allegations he denies. He has, however, repeatedly criticised Islam and immigration which he says are harming French identity.
The rally was marked by clashes with anti-racism activists and Zemmour himself was at one point put in a headlock and suffered an injury to his wrist.
De Cacqueray-Valmenier, 23, was already given a suspended sentence in January 2019 over violence in a protest and is also on trial over an attack with a baseball bat.
A shocking video featuring French far-right pundit Eric Zemmour surfaced today on social media, sparking controversy.https://t.co/fwuioWRL3d— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) October 26, 2021
He has also boasted on his Instagram account of in 2020 travelling to the southern Caucasus to fight with Armenians against Muslim Azerbaijan for control of the Azerbaijani territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Zemmour's campaign enjoyed a surge in popularity ahead of the declaration of his candidacy but his popularity appears to have slackened in recent weeks.