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The "great replacement" theory, from writer Renaud Camus to attacks in New Zealand

The writer Renaud Camus, Béziers, May 28, 2016.
The writer Renaud Camus, Béziers, May 28, 2016. BERTRAND LANGLOIS / AFP

The right-wing writer Renaud Camus is not a man to mope in the bad conscience. It does not matter to him that, to justify his bloody attack, one of the terrorists who killed at least 49 people in a double attack on mosques in New Zealand took advantage of the concept of "Big replacement" that he forged. On TwitterMr. Camus is content to recall that he condemns the violence, and considers that he has no responsibility for the acting out of Brenton Tarrant.

"The big replacement" is however written in large letters on the first page of the manifesto published online by the 28-year-old Australian just before entering mosques to open fire on those present. Throughout the 74 pages of this disjointed text, Brenton Tarrant is saddened by an alleged invasion of the western world by "Non-Europeans".

The manifesto published by Brenton Terrant before his attack.
The manifesto published by Brenton Terrant before his attack. The world

He claims that the desperation to see Emmanuel Macron – a "Internationalist, globalist, anti-white", supposedly favorable to immigration "Massive" – beat in 2017 the "Quasi-nationalist" Marine Le Pen was, he says, one of the triggers of his murderous madness. Like the vision, during a stay in France, of a country where "The invaders are everywhere" would have convinced him of the need to act.

A speech that fits perfectly, if we put aside violence, with the theory of "Big replacement" developed a decade ago by Renaud Camus, who has since swarmed in the French political debate and beyond our borders.

A supposed "report" and a plot without proof

To summarize it roughly, this theory has two parts. On the one hand, what presents itself as a "Observation" demographic: due to immigration "Massive" and higher fertility, the populations of non-European origin are likely to surpass the populations numerically "Originating" (ie Caucasian) in Europe – and at the same time, to impose their culture and religion on the continent.

On the other hand, a more conspiracy side: this "big replacement" would intervene with the complicity of a "Substitute power", that is, capitalist ruling elites, known as the "Globalists", organizing voluntarily massive immigration, in order to build a new man "Free of any national, ethnic and cultural specificity", and so "Exchangeable" and "Relocated" thank you for the needs of the globalized economy.

Read also The fantasy of the "big replacement" demographic

An old tradition on the far right

This theory was publicly defended for the first time by Renaud Camus in theAbecedary of In-Camera, published in 2010, before being developed in The Great Replacement, the next year. He is not the true inventor, however, since it originated in the late nineteenth century.e century, at Maurice Barrès, one of the intellectual fathers of French nationalism. In The Call to the Soldier (1900), Barrès, a supporter of Action française, fervently defends the land and the roots and exalts the nation. He uses for the first time the term "large replacement" by "Abroad", that is to say, the Jew, who would "Fatally accomplished in the short term". "France can always be called France, its soul will be dead, emptied, destroyed"he writes.

For the historian Emmanuel Debono, the great replacement draws its source even further in history, with the theories "evictionnistes" which, at the end of XIXe century, lent to the mulattoes of the Antilles the secret design of wanting to evict or subject the white settlers by a demographic overflow.

But the thesis of a change of population is especially important after the Second World War. In French neo-Nazi circles then grew the idea of ​​a "Jewish conspiracy" encouraging "Biological and cultural hybridization" in order to "Destroy Europe" for "To establish a globalist plutocratic dictatorship", says Nicolas Lebourg in the columns of World, from Release and Figaro. According to the historian, Renaud Camus would only update this thesis after September 11, 2001, by emptying it of its antisemitic substance to adapt it to the clash of civilizations and Islamophobia.

An idea that infuses into the political debate

If the public success of Renaud Camus is to relativize, its influence on the French public debate is indisputable. From polemist Eric Zemmour to philosopher Alain Finkielkraut and writer Michel Houellebecq (including the novel Submission, who imagines a rise of power of Islamists in France, is inspired by conversations with Renaud Camus), many prominent media figures no longer hesitate to take over the idea of ​​"great replacement".

This theory has also charted its way among certain French politicians. In the ranks of the National Rally (RN, ex-FN), Marion Maréchal-Le Pen to Nicolas Bay, through Stéphane Ravier and Julien Sanchez, many executives defend it more or less openly. They follow in this an older tradition, since in 1982, the number two FN Jean-Pierre Stirbois advocated the "Remigration", that is to say the 'Return' immigrants to their country of origin, in unambiguous terms: "Immigrants from beyond the Mediterranean, return to your gourbis! " Jean-Marie Le Pen himself thought in his memoirs that the "Big replacement" had been "Wanted and organized" by "A desire of all the dominant political class to limit the population of origin and to import a population of complement, which was to become by necessity a substitute population".

Marine Le Pen maintains a more cautious position: the current president of the RN has always refused to take over the theory of the great replacement as a design secretly pursued by the political elites, without however contradicting the supposed " "anti-replacement". In 2013, she denounced "Large population replacement" favored by François Hollande, accused of "Totally" opened the borders of France. Two years later, she accepted without hesitation the accession of Renaud Camus to SIEL, a satellite party of the FN.

Nicolas Dupont-Aignan is also sensitive to the theme of the "great replacement". The president of Debout France used the phrase in Current values in 2017, before defending himself for having taken over, then finally admitting: "Yes I talked about it, I even talked about" creeping replacement ". I tell the truth, what all French people think, especially foreigners and children of foreigners in my constituency. They tell me that we have to stop with massive immigration. "

At Robert Ménard, the "big replacement" is almost a hobby. In 2016, the mayor of Béziers, close to the RN, saw in the election of a Muslim mayor in London "A historic turning point which symbolizes the great replacement in progress". He also said about back to school that she is "The most brilliant proof of the great replacement in progress. Just look at old class photos ». Robert Ménard was sentenced, then released in 2018, after comments about the presence of Muslim children in his city.

The idea of ​​Renaud Camus also circulates more and more openly within the conservative right. Without pronouncing the term as it was, Nicolas Sarkozy had sounded the alarm in 2016 on a "European civilization" who "Feels like a minority". "Demography makes history, not the other way aroundsaid the former president. This explains the European questions. The axis of the world has clearly moved to Africa and Asia. We must react, or we will disappear. "

Just before being elected head of the party Republicans, in 2017, Laurent Wauquiez went a step further by explaining on a television set that the theory of the great replacement was " a reality " and that it was enough to convince oneself of "To go to the lost districts of the Republic".

From "remigration" to physical violence

Does the fact that Brenton Tarrant, the Christchurch terrorist, has brought to the fore the expression "great replacement" in his murderous manifesto enough to place him in the lineage of Renaud Camus? If the writer keeps reminding himself that he is a supporter of non-violence, he was still sentenced in 2014 for provoking hatred or violence, after presenting Muslims as "Rogue", 'Soldiers', "The armed arm of conquest", or even "Colonizers" seeking to render "The impossible life for the natives". Beyond the rhetorical denunciation, Renaud Camus is a staunch supporter of "Remigration"which would consist in constraining "Peaceful" and "Human") immigrants to return to their supposed " native country ".

But Brenton Terrant is especially part of an older tradition of ultra-violent right that, even before the appearance of the "Big replacement", already denounced for decades a supposed "Migratory submersion". Witness the use in his manifesto of the black sun, a badge popular with neo-Nazis, which contains three swastikas.

Read also Attack in New Zealand: the specter of online radicalization

Samuel Lawrence , Maxime Vaudano , Gary Dagorn and Assma Maad

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