Ethnic minority French nationals have told Channel 4 News they feel under threat from “anger” stirred up by a man dubbed the “French Trump”, as he surges in popularity ahead of the country’s presidential elections next year.
Eric Zemmour has attracted large enthusiastic crowds to his rallies where his supporters praise his “sincerity” and “love” of France as he builds his political profile.
He was embroiled in scandal earlier this year when a French broadcaster was fined after a racist slur was used describing young migrants as murderers and rapists.
Asked if he believes a Muslim is more likely to be a murderer or rapist just by dint of their faith, Mr Zemmour told Channel 4 News: “I have never said that. Islam is not only a faith it is also a legal and political system and a civilisation so it is much more complex than what you seem to say.”
Asked what his campaign could offer working class people, he said: “During the presidential campaign we have to talk about France.
“We have to maintain a high-minded level of debate. Like what is France’s destiny in the next 10 to 20 years.
“After that you can go into details but first we have to define the debate which is this: France and its destiny.”
Mr Zemmour has not announced his candidacy for the French presidential election.
The town of La Mosson in Montpellier Hit the headlines this year when President Macron was told by a local mother here that her young son had never met anyone called Pierre.
Nouredine, who lives in La Mosson, said: “For the first time I have the feeling that someone wants me dead – that’s what Zemmour represents for me. The feeling of being in danger.”
He added: “His message is so radical, the anger which is growing is so powerful that I’m worried people will be targeted and physically attacked.”
Marwan, a community worker of North African heritage, said: “He (Mr Zemmour) denies part of my history. My history is French, Muslim, working class, diverse, colourful – that’s France and he denies that part of France, that cultural identity, for him French identity is frozen.”