Paris police ban anti-Islamic street party
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On Tuesday, Paris police banned a "pork sausage and wine" event planned for Friday night by a group protesting what it calls the "Islamisation" of a city neighbourhood.
The scheduled "Apero Géant" was organized on Facebook by a woman using the pseudonym Sylvie François. She told French daily Libération that she no longer felt at home in the Goutte d'Or, the northern Paris district where she had lived all her life:
"People of French origin can't have a drink in peace there. If you are a woman you get hostile looks if you're not wearing an [Islamic] veil," she said.
The street party was planned to coincide with the close of Friday evening prayers at a local mosque, when the neighbourhood's Muslims fill the streets. Algeria is also scheduled to play England at the football World Cup that night.
Pork and alcohol, the event's planned components, are forbidden by Islam.
Fadela Amara, a French government minister of Algerian origin, denounced the idea as "hateful, racist and xenophobic."
Extremist groups on the right and left had been publicising the party on other Internet sites. One of them, Riposte Laïque (Secular Response), which presents itself as a far-left anti-religious group, said the event was intended as a "festive" response to the "fascist-Islamist offensive in France."
Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë defended the ban and said he feared the party could have turned violent. Unsurprisingly, the deputy head of France's ultra-right National Front party, Marine Le Pen, criticised the ban, saying "the French state has capitulated once again."
On Wednesday, the French organisation SOS Racisme came out against what it calls the "freedom of racist speech" in the public sphere. In response, it has launched a huge informational campaign urging people not to "become spokespeople for intolerance."
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