Protesters gather at Place de la Republique.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Yet another anti-Israel demonstration took place in the French capital on Saturday even though authorities had banned it, fearing it would morph into an anti-Semitic riot.
A few thousand people marched from Place de la Republique to Place de la Bastille and then Place de la Nation, burning Israeli flags and shouting: “Palestine for Palestinians, Israel go home.”
A poster on the statue in the monument at the center of the Place de la République read: “Gaza mon amour.”
The marchers passed near the Theatre de la Main d’Or, where the anti-Semitic comedian Dieudonne regularly performs, and where on Saturday a conference on Palestine was held in which Dieudonne participated.
A few hours into the demonstration, violence erupted between protesters and police. Activists taunted and threw projectiles at police, who responded with tear gas and arrested 70 people.
This was the fifth banned pro-Palestinian demonstration to take place in France.
There are many synagogues and other Jewish institutions on the route (the main reason the Prefecture of Police of Paris decided on Friday to prohibit the protest).
On Friday night, a local administrative court rejected the appeal of the organizers against the ban.
Earlier, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve called on them to “renounce the demonstration that would create a serious risks of clashes.”
Officials cited the fact that the same organizers and the same people were behind previous demonstrations that took place despite being forbidden and had been very violent.
Police sources said synagogues were very well protected on Saturday, with 1,200 policemen deployed on the protest route and in railway stations where demonstrators from the suburbs arrived.
One of the heads of the New Anti-Capitalist Party, Olivier Besancenot, said: France can’t be the only county where you can’t protest [to show] your solidarity with the Palestinian people... Right now there is a massacre in Gaza.”
On Thursday, Amnesty International accused France of threatening “the fundamental right of peaceful assembly.”
And Human Rights Watch criticized the “disproportionate shackling of the freedom of assembly and expression.”
Also on Thursday, in Bobigny, in the northeastern suburbs of Paris, some 15 young men armed with iron bars beat a young Jew, after they found information on him on Facebook.
“You are the guy on Facebook?” they asked him before attacking him, he later told the UEJF Union of French Jewish students, which released the information on Friday.
“We are here to break Jews and we are going to do to you what was done to Ilan Halimi,” the told their victim.
Halimi, a Jew, was kidnapped, tortured and killed in the Paris region in 2006.
According to the UEJF, in recent days, Facebook pages have been created calling for violence against young Jews, with their photos, ID and phone numbers, and addresses. “It is unacceptable to call for murder of Jews and target them on Facebook,” the UEJF said.