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 Le Pen scoffs at threats of French town boycotts
    By Alister Doyle
    PARIS, June 21 (Reuter) - French right-wing extremist
 Jean-Marie Le Pen on Wednesday ridiculed calls for a boycott of
 three towns won by his anti-immigrant National Front Party and
 said any sanctions would be illegal.
    Mainstream parties and artists have split deeply over
 proposals for businesses, artists, tourists and sports
 personalities to stay away from the three towns won by the Front
 in a breakthrough for the party in Sunday's municipal elections.
    ``This yapping of badly trained and unwashed puppies won't
 prevent the National Front from continuing its political action
 for French people threatened with becoming pariahs in their own
 country,'' Le Pen told a news conference.
    The party won control of the southern towns of Toulon,
 Marignane and Orange, the first towns won by the party founded
 in the early 1970s. Its only previous mayor briefly held office
 in the southern village of Saint-Gilles.
    Le Pen, 67, a former paratrooper, made a veiled threat of
 legal action against former Socialist Prime Minister Laurent
 Fabius for proposing a boycott, saying it was illegal.
    Popular singer Patrick Bruel was among singers who cancelled
 concerts in the Riviera port of Toulon.
    ``I don't believe people will die of that in Toulon,'' Le
 Pen said at a news conference flanked by the three mayors, who
 did not speak during Le Pen's hour-long performance. ``It won't
 stop the Mediterranean from being blue, nor the sky either, I
 hope.''
    He also said it was ``absurd'' for the Belgian city of Liege
 to have cut off a twinning accord with Toulon in protest.
    A government spokesman said President Jacques Chirac
 believed the municipal election results showed a need to control
 migration, combat social exclusion and fight crime. Le Pen wants
 to send home three million immigrants.
    French singer Charles Aznavour said he opposed a boycott,
 adding that it was unfair for singers to lead it. ``Will writers
 continue to sell their books, will the television and radio stop
 broadcasting to these towns?,'' he asked.
    Le Pen reserved some of his fiercest rhetoric for Culture
 Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy, who stopped short of calling for
 a boycott but said the Front gains demanded ``a more intense
 effort'' from people of culture.
    Referring to Douste-Blazy's background in southwestern
 France, Le Pen said: ``We've heard of the cretin from the Alps,
 now we know there is also a cretin from the Pyrenees.'' Cretin
 from the Alps is a French expression for village idiot.
    Le Pen also said the party would seek to annul the election
 results in three towns where the Front had seemed well placed to
 win after a first round a week earlier but had failed.
    In Dreux near Paris, Vitrolles in the south and Noyon in the
 north, mainstream parties successfully mobilised to encourage
 voters to turn out in mass to block the Front.
    ``Our candidates will seek an annulation,'' he said,
 accusing opponents of insults and threats. He also said he was
 not satisfied with the overall results, in which the party
 almost tripled the number of its local councillors.
    The three mayors said after the news conference that they
 would stick within the law in implementing policies of
 ``national preference'' -- giving French natives priority for
 jobs, housing, education and social welfare.
    ``In France there has been a slide towards giving foreigners
 priority,'' Le Pen said without giving specifics. ``We merely
 want to redress the balance.''
 

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