What is La Citadelle, the ultra-right association dissolved by Darmanin?

The Minister of the Interior announced this Wednesday the dissolution of La Citadelle, an associative bar established in Lille since 2015.

What is La Citadelle, the ultra-right association dissolved by Darmanin?

The Minister of the Interior announced this Wednesday the dissolution of La Citadelle, an associative bar established in Lille since 2015.

“House of identity”, “patriot bar”, this is how the Citadelle defines itself on its website. The Lille bistro has been located on rue des Arts, in the very center, since January 2015. "The Citadel aims to be the gathering place for all those who resist global culture and the destruction of our identities", we can still read in his presentation. Behind this bar, a certain Aurélien Verhassel, figure of the Lille ultra-right, former member of the small group Génération identitaire dissolved in 2021.

This Wednesday, February 7, La Citadelle is in turn dissolved, announces Gérald Darmanin at the end of the Council of Ministers. “As detailed in the decree that I presented, it incites xenophobia, discrimination, hatred and violence,” justifies the Minister of the Interior on X, brandishing his “absolute firmness against the broadcasters of hate".

The dissolution decree returns to "remarks" made by the bar manager "during interviews or on television sets, claiming to reserve membership in his association for people of 'white race' and to reject Islam in France and in Europe. The text refers in particular to Aurélien Verhassel's passage in the program "Touche pas à mon poste" (TPMP) broadcast on C8 on February 15, 2023, during which he affirmed that there were "too many Muslims in France ".

The Citadel was revealed to the general public by a report by the television channel Al Jazeera broadcast in 2018, in which regulars of the bar made openly racist and neo-Nazi remarks and recounted the attack on a young North African woman in the Street.

The mayor of Lille Martine Aubry quickly thanked the government for its decision, adding on X that "those who make calls for hatred have no place in our country". The Lille town hall has been calling for the dissolution of La Citadelle for several years. In February 2023, she had the bar closed, which then planned to organize an evening on the theme "Let them return to Africa", in reference to a sentence pronounced by an RN deputy in the Assembly. The bar was reopened a few weeks later by an administrative court decision.

Gérald Darmanin announced that he was initiating a procedure to dissolve La Citadelle last December, at the same time as for the ultra-right group Division Martel, author of a violent expedition to Romans-sur-Isère following the death of young Thomas in Crepol.

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