PARIS (Reuters) – Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin has vowed to take steps to break up neo-Nazi groups in France, which he says are a disgrace to the country.
“These groups must be broken up and I will propose their dissolution at cabinet,” Villepin told the National Assembly lower house of parliament on Tuesday. “We’ll see to it that these groups are not reconstructed under false names.”
Some 3,000 people in France were involved in neo-Nazi groups, Villepin said, adding they were a “disgrace to the national memory and to republican values”.
“They are also a threat and a danger,” he said, pointing to a rise last year in the number of violent attacks committed by ultra-right groups to 65, up from 27 in 2003.
“Faced with this unacceptable situation, I want to take all the necessary measures, first of all banning public meetings,” Villepin said. He would also seek to stop groups using the Internet to spread neo-Nazi messages.
Earlier this month, a police investigation found that France’s far-right groups were increasingly targeting the country’s Muslims rather than Jews.
France is home to 5 million Muslims, Europe’s largest Muslim minority, as well as Europe’s biggest Jewish community.
Far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen caused outrage in France this month by saying the Nazi occupation of the country during World War Two had not been “particularly inhumane”.
France’s Justice Minister Dominique Perben has said Le Pen should appear in court to explain the comments.
In neighbouring Germany, a government bid to ban the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) failed in 2003.
However, the head of Germany’s highest court, was quoted by a newspaper on Saturday as saying the NPD could be banned despite the failure of the earlier attempt.
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