Macron challenger Eric Zemmour put in a headlock as supporters clash with anti-racists at his first campaign rally

THE far-Right firebrand hoping to become France’s next President was physically attacked at his first campaign rally in Paris today.

Eric Zemmour, 63, was placed in a headlock by an unidentified assailant as he walked through the crowd at the Zenith arena in northern Paris on Sunday.

AFP
French presidential hopeful Eric Zemmour was put into a headlock at a campaign event[/caption]
Reuters
Mr Zemmour was attacked at his first campaign rally[/caption]

“The attacker lunged out with his arms and pulled Mr Zemmour towards him after grabbing him around the neck,” said an eye witness.

“Mr Zemmour has bodyguards around him at all times, and they moved to grab the assailant and pulled him away,” the source added.

The violent incident – which was filmed and the video published on Twitter – was reported to police and said to be “under investigation,” according to Mr Zemmour’s aides.

He meanwhile announced that he was launching a new party called Re-Conquest (Reconquête), which would fight to “Save France” from its current decline.

It came after eight women reported sexual abuse by Mr Zemmour in the week that he announced his candidacy to become head of state.

They include Aurore Van Opstal, a 31-year-old Belgian writer, who claims she was assaulted by Zemmour in a Paris café two years ago.

Gaëlle Lenfant, a 55-year-old councillor from the French city of Aix-en-Provence, claims in a YouTube video that she was attacked by Zemmour as early as 2004.

Mr Zemmour, a married father of three who is expecting a love child with his 28-year-old campaign manager, has denied any wrongdoing and refuses to discuss the specific allegations.

But a press officer her 20s, who has asked for anonymity in line with her legal rights, has also claimed that Mr Zemmour sent her text saying: “So I’ll wait until you invite me into your home to rape you!”

Mediapart, the French investigative news site, has published a total of eight first-hand accounts of alleged sexual abuse by Zemmour, and retains evidence proving it.

Presented with the evidence this week, neither Mr Zemmour nor his campaign aides responded.

Spokesmen for both Paris police and prosecutors said they were not in position to discuss any possible criminal complaints against Mr Zemmour.

Two weeks ago, Mr Zemmour failed in a legal bid to prevent Closer magazine from publishing details of his secret affair with his campaign manager Sarah Knafo, 28, who is expecting their baby in April.

Both Mr Zemmour and Ms Knafo had complained about “an invasion of privacy”, while Mr Zemmour’s 62-year-old lawyer wife, Mylène Chichportich, has yet to comment on the scandal.

Earlier this month, Mr Zemmour went on trial in Paris for calling child migrants “thieves, rapists and murderers”.

A verdict in the case for “complicity in provoking racial hatred and racial insult” is expected in January.

Mr Zemmour, a print journalist turned television pundit, has already been convicted twice on similar charges, but is still riding high in opinion polls.

He is looking to take on Mr Macron in next year’s Presidential election, though he is yet to officially declare himself in the race.

Current polls suggest that he will go head-to-head with Mr Macron in the second round of the contest if he can beat far-Right National Rally candidate Marine Le Pen in the first round.

Mr Zemmour would likely stand on a platform of ending all immigration for a decade and ripping-up legal protections for migrants entering the country.

Reuters
Mr Zemmour is hoping to take on incumbent Mr Macron in next year’s presidential election in France[/caption]

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