FRANCE: In a recent development, the French Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanin, has imposed a ban on all pro-Palestine demonstrations within the country, while also issuing orders for the systematic deportation of foreign nationals who violate this ban.
This move comes as Europe grapples with rising concerns over a surge in antisemitism triggered by the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Protests against the ban by a sizable group of pro-Palestine demonstrators erupted in Paris. According to the police, approximately 3,000 people participated in these demonstrations, leading to 10 arrests.
Water cannons were deployed to disperse the protesters gathered at the Place de la République, where slogans such as “Israel murderer” and “Palestine will triumph” were chanted, and Palestinian flags were waved.
In a separate rally in Lille, ten more individuals were arrested. Pro-Palestinian groups argue that the ban encroaches on their freedom of expression and have vowed to persist in demonstrating in support of the Palestinian people.
French President Emmanuel Macron, addressing the situation through a video speech, called on the people of France to remain united.
He underlined the tragic consequences of the Israel-Hamas conflict, citing those 13 French citizens lost their lives in a large-scale Hamas attack on Israeli civilians, including four children, and that 17 others remain missing.
Macron branded Hamas as a “terrorist organization seeking the death of the Israeli people.”
France is home to a significant Jewish community, numbering nearly 500,000, the largest in Europe. The French Muslim community is also one of the largest in Europe, estimated at around five million people.
Darmanin instructed regional prefects to ensure the protection of Jewish schools and synagogues through a significant police presence.
He disclosed that there have been 100 recorded antisemitic acts since Saturday, including graffiti featuring swastikas, calls for “death to Jews,” and incitements for an intifada against Israel. Some incidents involved individuals attempting to carry knives into schools and synagogues.
In response to the escalating tensions, French police have been guarding the residences of prominent members of parliament, such as Yaël Braun-Pivet, President of the National Assembly, and MP Meyer Habib, both of whom are Jewish and have received enhanced security measures.
Chancellor of Germany, Olaf Scholz, has also affirmed a “zero tolerance” policy towards antisemitism, vowing to ban pro-Palestine groups that celebrated the killing of Israeli civilians by Hamas.
Meanwhile, the authorities in Berlin have also banned planned pro-Palestine demonstrations, citing the risk of antisemitic statements and glorification of violence. Approximately 60 demonstrators complied with the order to disperse from Potsdamer Platz in Berlin on Thursday.
President Macron expressed his concerns about the missing French citizens, who might be among those held captive by Hamas in Gaza and pledged to do everything in France’s power, in cooperation with Israel and its allies, to secure their release.
He stressed Israel’s right to self-defense against terrorists but emphasized the duty of democratic states to safeguard the lives of civilians. Macron stated that the only response to terrorism is a strong yet fair one.
Additionally, it has been revealed that the President of the National Assembly, Yaël Braun-Pivet, has received death threats.
As a member of President Macron’s Renaissance party, she symbolically lit the parliamentary building in the colors of the Israeli flag in response to the Hamas attack and called for a one-minute silence before the parliamentary session on Tuesday.
Braun-Pivet also announced the banning of Maryam Abu Daqqa, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), from attending a documentary screening in parliament next month. The PFLP is recognized as a terrorist organization by the European Union.
Furthermore, MP Meyer Habib, who represents French overseas constituencies covering Israel and the Palestinian Territories and is a vocal supporter of Israel, has been provided with increased security measures.
Following the Hamas attack, Habib commented that “we are witnessing the return of pogroms.”
The majority of political parties in France have condemned what they term “terrorist attacks” by Hamas.
However, the political landscape is divided due to the Hamas attack and its repercussions. While most parties have decried the “terrorist attacks” that occurred on Saturday (7/102023), expressing support for Israel’s right to respond.
The initial response from the left-wing party, La France Insoumise (France Unbowed), led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, was more ambivalent. Their statement referred to Hamas’s actions as “armed attacks by Palestinian forces,” leading to harsh criticism from other parties, including left-wing allies like the Socialist and Communist parties.
In Germany, Chancellor Scholz informed the Bundestag that the security of Israel is a policy of the German state. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is scheduled to travel to Israel on Friday (12/10/2023) as a show of solidarity.
Scholz also announced the ban of the pro-Palestine group Samidoun, which was reportedly distributing candy in Berlin’s Neukölln district to celebrate the Hamas attack. “We do not tolerate antisemitism,” he added.
According to German authorities, in several cities across the country, including Mainz, Braunschweig, and Heilbronn, Israeli flags raised in solidarity were torn down and destroyed, sometimes within a matter of hours.
It’s important to note that no restrictions have been announced for events in support of Israel.
Macron called for unity and urged the nation not to add domestic divisions to international conflicts, emphasizing that unity is the shield protecting them from hatred and excesses.
As these developments continue to unfold, Europe faces complex challenges related to the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict and the impact it has both internationally and domestically.
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