The France 2022 presidential candidate held his first official rally on the outskirts of Paris in the commune of Villepinte. An estimated 20,000 people attended the rally and another 75,000 tuned in online to listen to the far-right polemicist’s plan to beat Emmanuel Macron in next year’s presidential elections. But the rally soon descended into pandemonium as attendees began to row with protesters disrupting the event.
Several members of the crowd revealed themselves as demonstrators, disrobing to show off shirts reading “No to racism” as Eric Zemmour spoke.
The commotion evolved into a fight, with some of the attendees trading blows with the protesters.
Footage from the event shows the protesters standing on chairs as the crowd starts booing.
The demonstrators can then be seen being pulled down their chairs, with one man seen punching a woman donning one of the black shirts.
Another protester can be seen being dragged across the floor by the scruff of her shirt by a man in a camo jacket and a winter hat.
Some of the chairs were filmed being thrown towards the demonstrators as more people moved closer to the action to trade more blows with the demonstrators.
A group of men can then be seen moving in demanding everyone to “stop” as security guards separate the two groups.
Mr Zemmour confirmed earlier this week his bid to succeed President Macron at the Elysée Palace next April.
A former journalist who has been convicted of inciting racial hatred, he is the top contender to challenge Marine Le Pen, leader of the more established far-right National Rally.
In a video announcing his candidacy, Mr Zemmour said: “For a long time I was happy with the role of journalist …but I no longer trust that a politician will have the courage to save the country from the tragic fate that awaits it.
“That’s why I have decided to stand in the presidential election.”
The far-right candidate rose to prominence with his hardline criticism of Islam and immigration, stances that have drawn in support both from Le Pen’s voter base and from the mainstream conservative right, but has also alienated some voters that Le Pen had long sought to reassure.
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A Harris Interactive poll of people surveyed before Zemmour confirmed his widely-expected candidacy showed him down three to four percentage points at around 13 percent of voting intentions, pointing to the impact of various recent mishaps.
One was at the weekend when he was photographed giving the middle finger to a protester following a tumultuous campaign stop in Marseille.
He also sued gossip magazine Closer after it claimed he was expecting a baby with his chief political aide.
Surveys also show he has shocked some voters with provocative comments – from saying children shouldn’t be given foreign-sounding names to claiming that the French government of Philippe Petain which collaborated with the Nazis during World War Two had protected Jews.
And he has lost the backing of some high-profile supporters, French media say.