Sunday, April 25, 2004

"I've walked about freely in Iraq..."


MANCHESTER, England -- Angry demonstrators emptied a garbage can on the car of French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen on Sunday after he spoke in support of the anti-immigration British National Party.

Shouting "Nazi scum, off our streets!" about 100 demonstrators slowed Le Pen's car as he tried to leave a hotel in Altrincham on the outskirts of the northern city of Manchester.

Le Pen, who has been convicted of racism and anti-Semitism at least six times in France, was appearing at two British National Party events Sunday despite some demands that he be barred from the country.

At a news conference in the hotel in Altrincham, the leader of the anti-immigration French National Front party gave his backing to the British party ahead of June elections for the European Parliament.

As Le Pen and BNP chairman Nick Griffin met in a hotel, anti-fascist demonstrators gathered outside, angrily shouting slogans such as "Fascist scum, never again!" "Hitler, Griffin and Le Pen!"

Inside, Le Pen expressed mild surprise at the feeling his visit generated.

"I've walked about freely in Iraq and Turkey, in Malaysia and Indonesia," he said. "I don't see why I shouldn't be able to walk about freely in England."

He said the BNP and his National Front recognized what he said was a threat to Europe from immigration originating in the developing world.

"If this phenomenon is not stopped, our populations will be subjugated," Le Pen said.

When Le Pen's car began to pull away, the demonstrators emptied a large garbage can over the car and kicked and pounded it.

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