French ease ban on pro-Gaza demonstrations in Paris
The French authorities have reportedly authorised a demonstration in support for Gaza on Wednesday (23 July) after two government-banned protests over the weekend turned violent.
Wednesday’s gathering is to be allowed because the pro-Palestinian organisers are considered “serious and responsible” by the authorities, reports French daily Le Parisien.
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The Paris-based Federation International of Human Rights (FIDH) as well as a handful of left wing groups is behind the demonstration, set to kick off in the early evening from the city’s centre.
The move comes on the heels of a controversial French government ban on demonstrations in the capital after several protesters targeted two Paris synagogues the week before.
Leading figures in Francois Hollande’s socialist camp have condemned the bans, which are supported by the centre-right UMP party.
But thousands took to the Paris streets anyway on Saturday as Israel launched a ground assault in the Gaza Strip.
The latest conflict has so far seen more than 500 people in Gaza and 20 Israelis, mostly soldiers, killed.
On Sunday, another banned demonstration took place in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles where over a dozen youths looted several Jewish-owned grocery stores. Eleven have been detained.
The mayor of Sarcelles said the Jewish community is living in fear.
Manuel Valls, the prime minister, condemned the demonstrations against Israel after masked youths attacked Jewish-owned businesses, some cars and a synagogue in Sarcelles.
“What's happened in Sarcelles is intolerable: attacking a synagogue or a kosher grocery, is quite simply anti-Semitism, racism,” he said.
French president Francois Hollande, for his part, said he would not allow the Israel-Gaza conflict to unfold in France.
“We will not tolerate any act or speech that could cause a resurgence of anti-semitism and racism,” he said.
The French leader met with religious leaders in an effort to restore calm.
French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve noted on Monday the ban on marches was not absolute and widespread.
“If they can take place in peace, they can take place,” he said.
Demonstrations elsewhere in France have not been banned.