FRANCE

Calais bans pro- and anti-migrant demonstrations this weekend

Police detain participants in a abnned anti-migrant protest in Calais on 6 February
Police detain participants in a abnned anti-migrant protest in Calais on 6 February Reuters/Pascal Rossignol

Pro- and anti-migrant demonstrations have been banned in the French Channel port of Calais this weekend following a call by a far-left group to demonstrate solidarity with the thousands of refugees camped there and a planned counter-demonstration by right-wingers. Several far-right demonstrations have gone ahead in defiance of bans this year, leading to arrests.

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The regional police authority has slapped a ban on demonstrations "relating to the migration situation" in Calais and two neighbouring towns on Saturday and Sunday.

The move followed a call by Calais Migrant Solidarité-No Border - a small organisation that police, the government and right-wing politicians have accused of inciting migrants to violence and politically exploiting the situation - to rally near a migrants' centre and one by right-wing anti-migrant groups, Calais Libre and Reprenons Calais, for a counter-demonstration.

"The proximity of these two antagonistic groups is likely to give rise to tensions even serious threats to public order," a statement by the Pas de calais préfecture said.

Several far-right groups, such as the anti-migrant Pegida, have defied bans to demonstrate this year, leading to a number of arrests, including that of retired Foreign Legion General Christian Piquemal who appears in court in Boulogne on 12 May.

An estimated 3,500-5,000 migrants are living in a shanty town in Calais, hoping to get to the UK.

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