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French Socialists Arnaud Montebourg, Audrey Pulvar assaulted by right-wing gang

Arnaud Montebourg, a leading figure in France's Socialist party, and his partner, journalist Audrey Pulvar, say they were assaulted last night by a gang of people claiming to support the far-right National Front.

Audrey pulvar arnaud montebourg attacked paris 29 02 2012Enlarge
Journalist Audrey Pulvar and her partner, Socialist MP Arnaud Montebourg, at an event in Paris last month. The couple claim they were attacked after leaving a restaurant last night. (Julien M. Hekimian/Getty Images)

A French Socialist politician and his journalist partner say they were attacked last night by a gang of racist thugs claiming to support the far-right National Front (FN).

According to broadcaster Audrey Pulvar, who described the incident on Twitter this morning, she and her partner Arnaud Montebourg, a Socialist MP, were surrounded by a group of around 15 young men as they walked home from a restaurant in west Paris.

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They were shouting "Le Pen for president" in reference to the FN's presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen, Pulvar said. She also claimed they told her "Jean-Marie [Le Pen] gave us a late pass to hunt Paris yids," in reference to Marine's father and FN founder. 

Other chants, according to Pulvar, included "Juden, Juden, Juden" – the German word for Jews – and an FN slogan, "France for the French."

"We were hit by glasses that were thrown at us and broke over our backs before someone intervened, a member of staff if not the leader of the mob," Pulvar said.

It is not known whether the attackers were members of the FN, she stressed, adding that she had reported the matter to police. However, Pulvar asked for Marine Le Pen's response to the incident, asking: "Mrs Le Pen, do you support this?"

Montebourg, meanwhile, said it was evidence of "a climate in the FN where racist words can be used freely," Agence France Presse reported.

Le Pen herself condemned the attack, but accused the couple of attempting to exploit it for political reasons. She claimed that the most likely culprits were football hooligans who have "absolutely nothing to do with the FN" and may even have been attempting to discredit the party.

Pulvar and Le Pen clashed on air earlier this month, when Pulvar challenged the FN leader over her party's alleged links to neo-Nazi groups outside France, AFP noted.

Calling the incident a "provocation," Le Pen said: "The aim of a provocation is clearly to slander my campaign. Thank God the French are more intelligent than that."

However later in the day, Le Pen announced she was suing for defamation, according to the regional newspaper Ouest France, which said Le Pen had announced she was instructing her lawyer to lodge a complaint against Montebourg.

"Mr. Montebourg's remarks are in remarkable bad faith. He has no proof of his calomnies," she was quoted as saying. Defamation in France can be a criminal offense.

Le Pen has been on a PR offensive since taking over the FN leadership from her father in early 2011. Notably, she has sought to distance the party from its widely perceived anti-Semitism by making overtures to prominent Jewish figures and expelling FN members who publicly express racist views.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/france/120229/arnaud-montebourg-audrey-pulvar-attack-paris-marine-le-pen-national-front