Le Pen visits immigrant suburb

French anti-immigration leader taunts rivals for not visiting site of 2005 riots.

    Le Pen has taunted his rivals over their failure to visit the Argenteuil estates [AFP]
    The comments were blamed for fuelling tensions in the ethnically diverse French suburbs.
     
    A few days later the worst riots in 40 years erupted after two youths died of electrocution while fleeing from police.
     
    Sarkozy has not returned to Argenteuil since.
     
    'Go home'
     
    Le Pen and other rivals have taunted him over his unwillingness to visit the suburbs during his campaign for fear of sparking new unrest.
     
    "Thank you for allowing me to speak here, where even our former interior minister dared not come," Le Pen said at the start of the short visit.
     
    "I want to prove that there are no 'no-go' areas as far as we are concerned."
     
    One onlooker shouted "Go back home!" as he arrived.
     
    Souko Coumba, an immigrant from Mauritius, said seeing Le Pen filled her with "hurt".
     
    "He doesn't like blacks. My children are not going to vote for him," she said.
     
    "Le Pen didn't call us 'rabble' but that's still what he thinks of us," said Karim.
     
    The National Front leader is calling for a halt to immigration that he sees as the source of France's problems, fueling unemployment and threatening its way of life.
     
    The 78-year old stunned France in the 2002 presidential election by finishing second.
     
    He is in fourth place in the polls for the first round April 22 vote and says he is confident of winning a place in the second round on May 22.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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