The far-right mayor-elect of a French town has ordered the eviction of a human rights group fighting anti-Semitism and racism because of its "leftist political agenda".
Steeve Briois, the National Front (FN) mayor of Hénin-Beaumont, said that the Human Rights League (LDH), which was at the centre of the infamous Dreyfus Affair more than a century ago, was illegally occupying a council-owned office in the northern town of 27,000 people.
"The Human Rights League has illegally enjoyed municipal subsidies and a council space for years," Briois said.
"Not only was no tenancy agreement ever signed between the extreme-left association and the mayor - thus making the LDH an occupant with no legal right - but worse, it also [received] completely illegal grants."
LDH had been allowed to use the office just metres away from city hall without charge for more than a decade by Hénin-Beaumont's previous administration. The council also gave an annual grant to the group of €300 (£250).
Hénin-Beaumont, a former coal-mining town, had been a socialist stronghold for decades before it was seized by FN in March.
Briois claimed that LDH received unlawful funds as French law bans local authorities from subsidising political groups. He described LDH as a "partisan and politicised association".
"It's the first time I heard a mayor saying such a thing," Alain Pruvot, LDH local branch chairman, said.
The group was set up in 1898 to defend Jewish French artillery officer Alfred Dreyfus on treason charges that were later found to be false and motivated by anti-Semitism. The case shocked France and went down in history as the Dreyfus Affair.
LDH has campaigned for a century against racism and discrimination and has often crossed swords with FN, which pursues an anti-immigration, nationalist agenda.
Hénin-Beaumont was one of 11 towns seized by FN in two rounds of local elections at the end of March.
The result was hailed as a triumph by party leader Marine Le Pen who has been working on widening the FN's appeal by softening its image of being racist and anti-Semitic.