“So when you say ‘no to racism’, Zemmour supporters beat you. Highly revealing!,” said Alexis Corbière, spokesman of Leftist candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Unbowed France.
“Total support for journalists and militants attacked,” said Anne Hidalgo, Paris mayor and Socialist presidential candidate. A crew from the popular but critical Quotidien nightly TV news show was also booed and briefly removed by security during the meeting, where the media was booed.
“Violence has no place in our democracy,” said Green presidential candidate Yannick Jadot.
As for Mr Macron’s LREM party, their spokesman Pieyre-Alexandre Anglade, said: “Zemmour’s rally has shown him for what he is: hatred, division, disorder and violence.”
Despite the clashes, commentators said that the essayist-turned-politician’s first campaign meeting was a success both in terms of form and turnout.
“The tone of the speech, the ability to talk to 12,500 people…there’s no doubt: it went pretty well,” conceded Jonathan Bouchet-Petersen, deputy editor of Left-leaning Libération.
Mr Zemmour vowed that if elected he would reduce immigration to almost zero, dramatically tighten the naturalisation process, and expel failed asylum-seekers and illegal immigrants.
He reiterated the supposed threat of French people being “replaced” by immigrants, echoing a theory known as the “great replacement” that is popular with white supremacists.