PARIS — Dozens of people rallied Saturday in Paris to support the anti-migrant group Generation Identity, which is fighting for survival following a government order to dissolve it.
An Associated Press reporter saw around 200 protesters at the demonstration, which was largely peaceful. Participants held flags of the movement and signs reading "Stop dissolution." A counter-demonstration also took place in southern Paris against the controversial group.
Generation Identity has influence throughout France and beyond. It contends its members are whistle-blowers on a mission to preserve French and European civilization, seen as undermined by newcomers, notably Muslims. Critics contend it is a militia espousing a racist cause.
The Lyon-based group was the backbone of a 2017 "Defend Europe" mission on the Mediterranean Seat that used a chartered anti-migrant ship crewed by European citizens.
Generation Identity has scraped through several legal battles, but at the moment it is up against French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who wants to disband the group.
Darmanin announced this month the start of proceedings to dissolve Generation Identity. The Interior Ministry cited France's security code forbidding "combat or private militia groups" and groups that "provoke discrimination, hate or (racial) violence," according to French daily newspaper Liberation, which saw a copy of the government's seven-page justification.
The group was given 10 days to respond, and the deadline is Monday. Leader Clement Gandelin, told the AP that Generation Identity has the evidence it needs to refute the allegations. He said the group will fight to the end in court to retain the right to operate and if dissolved, "the militants will still be there."