France Bans Pro-Palestinian Rallies, Will Deport Foreigners Who Defy Order ‘Without Delay’

Lorenz Duchamps
By Lorenz Duchamps
October 13, 2023France
France Bans Pro-Palestinian Rallies, Will Deport Foreigners Who Defy Order ‘Without Delay’
A protestor wrapped in a Palestinian flag walks in front of French police officers during an unauthorized rally in Nimes, southern France, on Oct. 11, 2023 (Sylvain Thomas/AFP via Getty Images)

As fighting between Israeli forces and the Hamas terrorist group entered its seventh day, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin ordered local authorities to ban all pro-Palestinian demonstrations, saying they’re likely to “generate disturbances to public order.”

Mr. Darmanin sent the instruction to the prefects by means of a telegram, which AFP was able to consult, in which he instructed authorities on Thursday to arrest those who violated the ban.

“The organization of these banned demonstrations must result in arrests,” the minister said, adding foreign nationals who commit offenses in connection with these bans “must have their residence permits systematically withdrawn, and their deportation implemented without delay.”

Despite the ban, several hundred pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered at Place de la République in central Paris on Thursday. French police used teargas and water cannons to break up the prohibited demonstration.

Since Hamas’s cross-border attack from Gaza on Oct. 7, French police arrested dozens of people in more than a hundred anti-Semitic acts, including harassment of Jewish children by fellow students at schools, according to the French government.

In an interview with local radio station France Inter, Mr. Darmanin asserted that among the arrestees were three individuals of foreign origin who were regularly on French soil. He added that they had their residence permits withdrawn and will be expelled from the country.

NTD Photo
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin (right) speaks to the press after a meeting on strengthening security at Jewish community sites in Paris on Oct. 9, 2023. (Bertrand Guay/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, the National Collective for a Fair and Lasting Peace between Palestinians and Israelis has decried the minister’s move, saying it “denounces this threat to freedom of expression.” The organization pledged to continue holding pro-Palestinian demonstrations.

Rise in Anti-Semitic Acts

France, which is home to Europe’s largest Muslim and Jewish communities, has often seen domestic tensions rise with Middle Eastern conflicts.

According to a BBC report, France has a Jewish community of almost 500,000, the largest in Europe, while its Muslim community is also among the largest in Europe with an estimated five million people.

Since the bloody attack on Israel, which has left more than 1,300 Israelis and 1,500 Palestinians dead following retaliation, France has seen a spike in anti-Semitic threats both online and directly, including some people who were arrested with knives at the entrance of schools and synagogues, Mr. Darmanin told the radio station.

“There has been over a hundred anti-Semitic acts, mainly tags and swastikas,” he said. “But also insults … and a drone flying over a Jewish place of worship,” he added.

By comparison, a report jointly conducted by the Jewish Community Protection Service and the French Interior Ministry suggests anti-Semitic attacks in France numbered 436 for the entirety of 2022.

In response to the rise in attacks, Mr. Darmanin sent a directive to police prefects, which was seen by The Associated Press, calling to increase security at all locations frequented by French Jews such as synagogues, schools, and other sites.

NTD Photo
Protestors kick in a tear gas canister during a pro-Palestinian rally in Paris, France, on Oct.12, 2023. (Thibault Camus/AP Photo)

“We will provide financial and physical resources for as long as it takes to help reassure the Jews of France,” he said.

President Emmanuel Macron, meanwhile, urged the French to remain united and refrain from bringing the Israel–Hamas conflict home.

“This event is an earthquake for Israel, the Middle East, and beyond,” Mr. Macron said in a TV address. “Let’s not pursue at home ideological adventures by imitating or projecting.”

“Let’s not add, through illusions or calculations, domestic divides to international divides,” he added. “The shield of unity will protect us from hatred and excesses.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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