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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Le "Printemps français" dans le viseur de Manuel Valls

by Céline Agostini

Manuel Valls has the "French Spring" in his sights

Translated Friday 24 May 2013, by Richard Pond

The Interior Minister, Manuel Valls, wants to dissolve the "French Spring", an extreme-right movement opposed to same-sex marriage. Speaking to the radio station France Info this morning, Valls defended a possible ban on the movement, notably because of the death threats issued towards public figures who favour - or even oppose - marriage equality.

"There is no place for groups which defy the French Republic, which challenge our democracy and which also attack individuals," he declared on France Info. Two days before a fresh demonstration against same-sex marriage which will take place in Paris on Sunday 26th May starting at 2 pm, the Interior Ministry wants to adopt a tough approach.

Behind this decision by the government are death threats and above all a virulent public statement by the far-right group (which was created after Paris’s big anti-equal-marriage demonstration of 24th March). "France is now subject to forces that wish to enslave it entirely. The battle has only begun. It will carry on until our victory", the French Spring (Printemps français) wrote on their website. A few lines further down, the group details its objectives and above all its targets: "The French Spring therefore announces that the following are targets: the current government and all its branches, the political parties that collaborate with it, the lobby groups where its ideological programme is worked out, and the organs that spread the ideology."

An uncompromising Interior Minister

The Interior Minister thus showed himself to be firm: "Death threats and threats of this type are subject to examination by the courts," declared Manuel Valls. He also added that several pro-equal-marriage figures had regularly received death threats for weeks, including Frigide Barjot [who is against].

After making these statements, the Minister explained that such a prosecution could rely on the Domestic Security Code (code de sécurité intérieur) which envisions the dissolution of "combat organisations and private militias". The Code notably targets groups "which provoke armed demonstrations in the streets", "whose activities tend to thwart measures for the re-establishment of republican legality", or which "provoke discrimination, hatred or violence towards a person or group of people".

The spokeswoman of the French Spring, Beatrice Bourges, said she was "appalled by Manuel Valls’ statements". Bourges, who in 2012 was a parliamentary candidate for Christine Boutin’s Christian Democrats, does not understand "what the Minister wants to ban, as the French Spring is more of a spirit than anything else. The movement doesn’t even have a constitution", and she adds that if a decision of this kind had to be taken against her movement, "that would only reinforce it, since it proves that we’re really heading for a dictatorship".

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