PARIS (Reuters) - The French government said on Wednesday it would close down two more far-right militant groups after outlawing three others this month in response to the death of a militant left-wing student in June in a brawl between fringe groups.
The ban aims to smother extreme-right groups who were emboldened by street marches led by conservatives and Catholics earlier this year against the legalization of gay marriage.
“There is no place in our country for hate, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or anti-Muslim acts,” Interior Minister Manuel Valls said following a cabinet meeting that agreed to dissolve L‘Oeuvre Francaise (The French Work) and the Jeunesses Nationalistes (Nationalist Youth).
Valls said L‘Oeuvre Francaise, a neo-fascist anti-Semitic organization founded in the 1960s, was organized like a private militia with paramilitary training camps and that some of its members used the Nazi salute.
The government says the five targeted groups are the hard core of roughly a dozen far-right organizations with up to 3,000 members, who have become more visible as the anti-immigrant National Front has sought to become a more mainstream political party.
Images of far-right youths smashing car windows and hurling bricks at police shocked France during the anti-gay marriage protests, as did the death of 19-year-old Clement Meric during a clash between far-right and far-left youths.
French radio reports said security footage suggested Meric had been about to accost a far-right youth from behind when he turned around and delivered a fatal blow to his head.
The government moved earlier in July to close the extreme right Troisieme Voie (Third Way) organization and its militant wing -- some of whose members were allegedly involved in the June brawl -- along with a third group called Envie de Rever (Desire to Dream).
France has seen a recent flare-up in tensions over its Muslim and Roma populations, with clashes in a Paris suburb over a police check on a woman wearing a Muslim veil and a mayor facing sanctions for saying Hitler had not killed enough Roma.
Reporting by Gerard Bon; Writing by Catherine Bremer; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky