A gay rights activist, aged only 18, was left brain dead after an attack by far-right skinheads in Paris.
Clement Méric, a student in Paris, was ‘violently attacked’ by a group of three men and one woman near Saint-Lazare train station last night (5 June).
An avid anti-fascist protester, he is believed to have rallied for the marriage equality bill which was passed into law last month. His savage beating has provoked horrified reactions across France.
As The Local reports, a number of eyewitness reports as well as a police source quoted by TFI television indicate a group of left-wing activists had gone clothes shopping on Wednesday evening in Paris.
When the skinheads entered the same shop in the 9th district of Paris, there was an argument between the two groups.
As Méric left the store he was hit by man wearing what appeared to be knuckle-dusters, according to initial reports.
He now lies in Pitié-SalpÃªtriÃ¨re Hospital in Paris in a state of brain death.
In a statement, the Parti de Gauche (Left Party) said the ‘horror of fascism has just killed right in the middle of Paris’.
Leader Jean-Luc Mélénchon has called on the far-right groups to be disbanded who have ‘committed numerous acts of violence in Paris and across the country’ in the last few weeks.
Serge Ayoub, the nicknamed ‘Batskin’ leader of the Jeune Nationaliste Revolunnaire (JNR – Revolutionary Nationalist Youth), a neo-Nazi skinhead group, has denied involvement in the attack.
‘That’s absolutely false,’ he said.
Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front, called the attack on the young student repulsive and detestable but said groups such as the JNR had no ties with her party.
When asked by RTL radio why one of the attackers was seen wearing a top with her party’s logo, she reacted angrily.
‘Making this kind of association is scandalous, I’d like to know very much who this witness is,’ Le Pen said. ‘You have no proof at all.’
French Interior Minister Manuel Valls has vowed to ‘eradicate this kind of violence, which bears the mark of the extreme right.’
In a statement, liberal party Europe Ã‰cologie Les Verts (Europe Ecology-Greens) said: ‘It is high time that those who have recently spoke of hate speech and violence are thinking about the consequences on the disturbed minds of violent fanatics.’
A vigil and a rally against violence in honor of Méric will take place in Paris tonight (6 June).