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Home » France Bans All Pro-Palestinian Demonstrations

France Bans All Pro-Palestinian Demonstrations

Image source, EPA

Image caption, Most political parties in France have condemned what they called Hamas’s “terrorist attack”

By Ido Vock & Laurence Peter

BBC News

France’s interior minister has banned all pro-Palestinian demonstrations in the country.

In a statement, Gérald Darmanin ordered foreign nationals who break the rules to be “systematically” deported.

The move comes as European governments fear a rise in antisemitism triggered by the Israel-Hamas war.

Later a large crowd of pro-Palestinian demonstrators defied the ban in Paris. Police put the total at 3,000, and said they made 10 arrests.

A water cannon was used to disperse the rally at Place de la République, where demonstrators chanted “Israel murderer” and “Palestine will win” and waved Palestinian flags.

Earlier German police broke up a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Berlin.

In a video address, President Emmanuel Macron urged the French people to stay united, saying “let’s not add national divisions to international divisions”.

He said 13 French citizens had died in the massive Hamas attack on Israelis on Saturday, and of the 17 others missing four were children.

He called Hamas “a terrorist organisation that wants the death of the people of Israel”.

France has a Jewish community of almost 500,000, the biggest in Europe. France’s Muslim community is also among Europe’s largest – an estimated five million.

Mr Darmanin told regional prefects that Jewish schools and synagogues should be protected by a visible police presence.

He told French radio that 100 antisemitic acts had been recorded since Saturday. Most involved graffiti showing “swastikas, ‘death to Jews,’ calls to intifadas against Israel”. However, some incidents included people being arrested attempting to carry knives into schools and synagogues, he added.

French police are already guarding the homes of leading MPs. National Assembly President Yaël Braun-Pivet and MP Meyer Habib have been offered further protection.

In a separate move, Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz declared “zero tolerance” for antisemitism.

He told parliament a pro-Palestinian group that had celebrated the murders of Israeli civilians on Saturday would be banned.

Berlin police have also banned planned pro-Palestinian demonstrations, citing the risk of antisemitic statements and glorification of violence. Authorities said around 60 demonstrators complied with an order to leave Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz on Thursday.

More on Israel Gaza war

President Macron said some of the 17 French citizens missing were probably among the hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, and “France is doing everything it can alongside Israel and our partners to bring them home”.

Israel, he said, has the right to defend itself by eliminating terrorists, but “has to preserve civilian lives because it’s the duty of democracies”. “The only response to terrorism is one that is strong but fair,” he said.

It has also emerged that French Assembly President Braun-Pivet has received death threats.

A member of Mr Macron’s Renaissance party, she had parliament lit this week in the colours of the Israeli flag in response to the Hamas attack, and called a minute’s silence before an Assembly session on Tuesday.

Ms Braun-Pivet also announced that Maryam Abu Daqqa, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), would be banned from attending a documentary screening in parliament next month. The militant organisation is recognised as a terrorist organisation by the EU.

Meyer Habib has also been given protection. He represents a constituency for overseas French citizens which includes Israel and the Palestinian Territories and is a vocal supporter of Israel. After the Hamas attack he said “we are witnessing the return of pogroms”.

French politics has been riven by the Hamas attack and its aftermath.

While most parties have condemned Saturday’s “terrorist attack” and expressed support for Israel’s right to respond, the initial response from Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s far-left La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) party was more equivocal.

A statement by the party referred to the Hamas attack as “an armed offensive of Palestinian forces”, prompting fierce criticism from other parties, including left-wing allies such as the Socialist and Communist parties.

In Germany, Chancellor Scholz told MPs in the Bundestag that Israel’s security was German state policy. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is due to travel to Israel on Friday in a gesture of solidarity.

Mr Scholz also announced that pro-Palestinian group Samidoun, which was pictured handing out sweets in the Neukölln area of Berlin to celebrate the Hamas attack, would be banned. “We do not tolerate antisemitism,” he added.

According to German authorities, in several towns across the country including Mainz, Braunschweig and Heilbronn, Israeli flags raised in solidarity with the country were torn down and destroyed, sometimes in just a few hours.