Fabius calls for boycott of Front

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The Independent Online
Cities and towns that voted in National Front councils should be boycotted and shown that a vote for the extreme right would ``backfire on the people who elected them'', Laurent Fabius, a former French Socialist prime minister, said yesterday.

His comments were the fiercest from French politicians and public figures yesterday as it dawned that the Front now controls a city and two towns. Toulon, with 170,000 people, was the largest to fall on Sunday to the Front, which also gained Marignane, near Marseilles and Orange. A former Front official became mayor of Nice.

Mr Fabius also suggested industries should refuse to move to Front-controlled cities and towns. Before the elections, mainstream-parties campaigners said employers could well choose to move away from Front-run cities.

Front officials in those towns retorted that employment was already a huge problem, because there were not enough jobs and because employers used mainly immigrant labour, paying minimum wages. This attracted immigrants to the town and also priced locals out of jobs.

Jack Lang, a former Socialist culture minister, called on everyone ``who believes in the right to liberty and equality and the values of the Republic'' to say so. ``We must show that we will not accept the politics of exclusion, rejection and hatred being imposed on our cities.''

Others, however, preferred the boycott suggestion. The head of a dance company based in Toulon said it would move out, and a number of artists said they were cancelling plans for events in Orange and Nice.

Yesterday police held 140 people, mostly North Africans, in nation-wide raids. The Interior Ministry said that they were suspected of involvement in Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, arms trafficking and illegal immigration.

n Brussels - The Belgian city of Liege, which last month officially declared its opposition to racism, has broken off ties with Toulon, AFP reports. The deputy mayor, Alain Tison, called Toulon a city "led by a racist and xenophobic party".