Organized by the Islamophobic movement Pegida, the event in Calais caused some clashes despite its prohibition.
Etienne Desplanques, Chief of Staff of the prefect of Pas-de-Calais says: “Around 12:30pm, groups began to circulate in the city centre, mainly of ultra neo-Nazi type of right. Seven of them were arrested at the beginning, then a rally was made in front of the station in Calais. “ .
At around 1.30pm, a few scuffles broke out between the police and the demonstrators. The demonstrators sang the Marseille and waved French flags.
There have been several calls for authorities to ask the police to disperse of the rally with the aid of tear gas.
“We immediately deployed mobile police forces around the hundred demonstrators to contain them and the situation. We conducted a series of arrests, twenty initially” , said Mr. Desplanques, adding that the figure was likely to evolve.
An AFP photographer present on the spot found that they had arrested General Christian Thornton, Lieutenant General of the Foreign Legion from 1994 to 1999.
According to the prefecture, those arrested were sent to the Commission for examination of their situation and their possible placement in custody.
Around 2.30pm, the protesters dispersed peacefully.
Pegida, “European Patriots against the Islamization of the West” , extreme right movement born in Germany in autumn 2014, called on 23 January in protest in several European countries on Saturday.