French and Jewish extremists unite on Net against Arabs

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Extreme-right and neo-Nazi groups in France have formed an anti-Arab and anti-Muslim alliance on the internet with extremist Jewish groups, a report published yesterday said.

Since the French far right is known for its visceral anti-Semitism, the alliance has puzzled and disturbed anti-racism campaigners and mainstream Jewish organisations.

A series of linked websites, calling for violent "resistance" against the "Islamic Republic of France" and its leader, "President Ben Shirak" (Jacques Chirac), operated through a single host in the United States from 1999 until March this year, according to the report.

Responsibility for the sites, which called for attacks on mosques to provoke a civil war between Arabs on one side and white French and Jews on the other, has been traced to members of extreme right-wing groups in France, but also to extremist Jewish organisations.

All the sites disappeared mysteriously from the internet on a single day in March. Investigators for a French anti-racism organisation believe that the temporary black-out was caused by a quarrel between the unlikely new allies over the American-led invasion of Iraq.

Far-right groups allied to Jean-Marie Le Pen's National Front stridently opposed the war; extremist Jewish groups in France wholeheartedly supported it.

Despite this spat, new internet sites have sprung up in recent weeks, spouting the same vicious anti-Arab rhetoric, and have been traced once again to an informal coalition of far-right and extremist Jewish groups and individuals in France.

One of the alleged creators of these sites, an official of the National Front spin-off group the Mouvement National Républicain (MNR), was recently arrested by French police and may be charged with "inciting ethnic and religious hatred".

The Mouvement contre le Racisme et Pour l'Amitié entre les Peuples (Mrap), which produced yesterday's 170-page report, said the French government was not doing enough to combat racist propaganda on the internet.

It also denounced an extremist Islamic site in France that has been generating anti-Semitic propaganda for years without any action by the French authorities.

The main umbrella body for Jewish groups in France - the Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France (Crif) - yesterday condemned the racist propaganda placed on the internet by extremist groups.

Haim Musicant, the director of Crif, said he was aware of the existence of sites "which claim to be Jewish" that were calling for violence against people of Arab origin in France. "They are individuals who represent no reputable organisation," he said.

"They could be extremist [Jews] whom we condemn entirely, but they could also be provocateurs."

The sites, with internet links and common themes and use of language, originally found a home on a US host called liberty-web. net. They argued that whites and Jews in France were threatened with extinction by an Arab and Muslim "invasion", which was being assisted by racial traitors such as M. Chirac, always called Ben Shirak.

"It has become necessary to employ unusual methods to get rid of Ben Shirak and his government and to try to restore the honour, grandeur and security of France," one of the sites said in May last year. Two months later, a minor official in a group linked to the MNR tried to assassinate M. Chirac during the 14 July military parade on the Champs Elysées in Paris.

Another site, showing M. Chirac shaking hands with a man in an Arab head-dress, said: "2007: Chirac hands over power to his successor."

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