Queen dragged into firearm row triggered by Right-wing French pundit Eric Zemmour

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A picture of Queen Elizabeth II firing the SA-80 rifle at Bisley from 1993 - Daily Mail
A picture of Queen Elizabeth II firing the SA-80 rifle at Bisley from 1993 - Daily Mail

The French Right-wing pundit and likely presidential contender Eric Zemmour has dragged the Queen into a fierce political row he triggered by pointing an unloaded rifle at journalists at an arms fair near Paris.

Mr Zemmour, who some polls suggest could reach the second-round presidential runoff against incumbent Emmanuel Macron next April, raised eyebrows during a visit on Wednesday to Milipol, an annual “homeland and security” fair.

When he was shown a rifle with a silencer that can kill at 800m, he picked up up the gun - used by elite French anti-terror police- and waved it in the direction of a group of journalists, saying with a smile: “Now who’s laughing? Move. Get back, get back!”

It came after a public meeting this week in Béziers, southern France in which he said it was time to “take back power” from the media and other “counter-powers”.

He has also regularly laid into French state media as woefully woke and Left-wing.

For his critics, the symbolism was clear and the incident, relayed on social media, sparked an immediate response from President Emmanuel Macron's minister for citizenship, who said she was “horrified”.

"In a democracy, the freedom of the press is no joke and must never be threatened,” Marlène Schiappa tweeted. “At what point do we start worrying."

Mr Zemmour pointed the unloaded gun at journalists and said: "Who is laughing now?" - FRAT
Mr Zemmour pointed the unloaded gun at journalists and said: "Who is laughing now?" - FRAT

“We can’t say we weren’t warned,” tweeted Audray Pulvar, a former TV presenter and Paris region councillor who works for the city’s Socialist mayor, Anne Hidalgo.

Mr Zemmour responded by insisting the gun incident was “a joke”.

“Humour is a weapon that Ms Schiappa totally lacks.”

“I’m not holding anyone up. There was no political message or threat,” he added, slamming Ms Schiappa as an “imbecile” whose reaction was “grotesque” and “ridiculous”.

“When people attack me, I hit three times very hard. Let them be warned.”

He then tweeted a 1993 photo of the Queen looking down the barrel of a gun at the National Rifle Centre in Bisley with a red heart.

The tweet sparked a blizzard of responses on social media.

"The Queen has too much military experience and too much class to point a gun at journalists,” said one French Twitter user. “When it comes to journalists, she knows she is the target and she accepts it.”

“At least she knows where the trigger is,” said another.

Some pointed out that Mr Zemmour had flouted the basic rule that you never point a firearm, even unloaded, at anyone.

“Even Trump wouldn’t have dared. This guy’s nuts,” wrote one person.

However, others leapt to his defence, with one user saying it was “shameful” to suggest Mr Zemmour was sanctioning “murdering journalists when as Marlène Schiappa knows full well, he himself has received death threats as a journalist and is under police protection as a result”.

The issue is highly sensitive in a country where terrorists in 2015 shot dead 12 people at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, including several cartoonists and journalists, after it republished caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.

The flare-up came as a poll on Wednesday suggested that Mr Macron would comfortably reach the second round of next April's presidential election with between 24 per cent and 27 per cent of the vote.

Marine Le Pen, head of the National Rally is polling second on 17-18 per cent with Mr Zemmour hot on her heels on 16-17 per cent and Right-wing hopeful Xavier Bertrand on 15 per cent.

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