PARIS (AFP) - France’s far-right leader Marine Le Pen said on Sunday that dual nationality should be revoked following riots after Algeria’s last World Cup match, which she claimed showed the “failure” of French immigration policy.
Celebrations after Algeria’s historic qualification for the second round of the football World Cup on Thursday turned violent in some French cities, leading to the arrests of 74 people for rioting and looting.
National Front leader Le Pen said this showed “the total failure of immigration policies in our country and the refusal expressed by a number of binational citizens to assimilate.” She suggested those holding dual nationality should support France in international tournaments and not their country of origin.
“Now we must put a stop to dual nationality,” she told a talkshow broadcast on French television and radio.
Algerians make up France’s largest immigrant group, with close to two million people, and many hold dual citizenship.
“What is clear is there is a not an insignificant number of people that are choosing Algeria over France,” Ms Le Pen said. “You should pick: are you Algerian or French, Moroccan or French, but you cannot be both.”
Joy erupted on the streets of France after the historic Algerian qualification, but in some parts of the country celebrations turned sour after clashes with riot police.
The central city of Lyon was particularly hard-hit, with shops looted, several dozen cars set on fire and firefighters assaulted, according to the interior ministry.
The ministry said police would be on high alert for Algeria’s next World Cup match against Germany on Monday. If the team wins it could face France later in the competition.
Speaking on the channel Europe 1, Ms Le Pen said that while she did not think politicians should comment on football, she found the events of Thursday night “eminently shocking” and said she worried about the “consequences of matches played by Algeria on my compatriots”.
“There is not another country in the world that would accept what we go through on our territory,” she said.
She also said that while not a big football fan herself, “in these big competitions, I try to be patriotic, and if I support anyone, I will support France”.
Since becoming leader of the National Front in 2011, Ms Le Pen has been trying to clean up the image of the party as a racist and anti-Semitic group.
She led her party to first place in May European elections with 25 per cent of the vote in France and the National Front also did better than expected in local polls in March.
Ms Le Pen has spoken out against dual citizenship laws before. In 2010, she called for reform on the grounds that it “undermines” republican values.
The group SOS Racisme said it was “as dangerous as it is concerning” for Marine Le Pen to use a few isolated incidents to support the National Front’s agenda.
Former Prime Minister Francois Fillon, of the centre-right UMP, said Le Pen’s proposal “would change nothing,” adding that it was “not a legal problem.”
“It is a failure of integration policies, and now we have a generation that is not proud to be French,” he told RTL’s Grand Jury television show.