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France: far-right populist announces candidacy for 2022 presidential election

French far-right media pundit and 2022 presidential candidate Eric Zemmour reacts prior taking part in the evening news broadcast of French TV channel TF1 in Boulogne-Billancourt, outside Paris, on November 30, 2021. [THOMAS COEX/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]
French far-right media pundit and 2022 presidential candidate Eric Zemmour reacts prior taking part in the evening news broadcast of French TV channel TF1 in Boulogne-Billancourt, outside Paris, on November 30, 2021. [THOMAS COEX/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

French populist and media pundit Eric Zemmour announced on Tuesday that he is standing as a candidate in next year's presidential election with a chilling message for Europe's Muslims. The 63-year-old, who has been called a far-right "Jewish anti-Semite", peddled the racist and infamous "great replacement" conspiracy theory in a video announcing his candidacy.

"We will not let ourselves be dominated, subjugated, conquered, colonised," said Zemmour. "We will not let ourselves be replaced." This was a nod to the conspiracy theory which posits that European, white and Christian populations are being supplanted by non-white immigrants from Africa and the Middle East, particularly Muslims.

The 'Great Replacement': Why far-right nationalists love Israel

The 10-minute video posted on social media evoked memories of the Nazi occupation of France. Zemmour is seen sitting at a desk reading a speech and delivering his anti-immigration message in front of an old-fashioned microphone. The pose is intended to look like President Charles de Gaulle's famous June 1940 broadcast to Nazi-occupied France. Since being posted on the official Eric Zemmour channel, the video has been viewed more than two million times, attracting sharp criticism and anger.

Zemmour's meteoric rise has caused divisions within France's Jewish community. In an article describing the former journalist as the "useful Jew", Britain's Jewish Chronicle pointed out that although he is condemned by French Jewish organisations for his racism, some Jewish voters see him as a potential saviour as they face growing insecurity and "Islamist anti-Semitism".

"Some Jews do back him and they are making a lot of noise on social media," a Jewish umbrella group is quoted as saying in the JC. "There is a bit of a populist trend but luckily most Jews are moderate. No Jewish institution has backed him."

Read: The unholy alliance between Israel and alt-right ideologues

Like many on the far-right who look to Israel's ethno-nationalist state as a model solution for what they see as the problem of Muslim immigration, Zemmour has made deeply hostile remarks about Palestinians. "There will never be a Palestinian state," he told i24NEWS. He implied that Palestinians had forfeited their right to self-determination because they had "lost the battle".

In the same interview he supported Israel's claim to Jerusalem because, "If Israel says Jerusalem is its capital, then it's the capital." Under international law, East Jerusalem is occupied territory, and is earmarked to be the capital of a Palestinian state.

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