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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Extremists, French Arts In Dispute

TOULON, France -- Several hundred French entertainers marched through the southern city of Toulon on Thursday to protest against a drive by an extreme-right mayor to sack a left-wing theater director and close his cultural center.

The country's arts establishment has repeatedly clashed with the anti-immigration National Front in the party's four southern bastions, accusing it of censorship in libraries and at cultural events.

The protesting singers, actors and film-makers traveled overnight aboard a "Freedom Train" to the Mediterranean port to fight the dismissal of director Gerard Paquet by mayor Jean-Marie Le Chevallier.

The hearing began in a tense atmosphere but was quickly adjourned until March 27 at the request of Le Chevallier, who said that the theater might appoint a successor to Paquet on Friday.

The artists, including film directors Claude Chabrol and Bertrand Tavernier, comedian Guy Bedos and actor Roger Hanin, demonstrated in a main Toulon square and attended a court hearing on Paquet's sacking.

"I cannot accept the diktat of a party. ... What is happening is typical of a totalitarian or fascist state attacking culture and freedom," rock star Jacques Higelin said.