On Wednesday, Paris braced itself for a protest against Israel’s aggression in Gaza after other similar rallies ended in looting and violence.
The French government had banned several weekend rallies, but the ban had failed as the rallies went ahead despite the ban; the rallies descended into violence and chaos. The government subsequently decided to permit Wednesday’s protest after talks with organizers of the protest who gave “security guarantees”, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said.
This weekend’s protests in Paris and in the town of Sarcelles were tainted by clashes between the police and demonstrators. The police force dispersed local crowds using tear gas shells, and arrested several dozens of people. In an earlier demonstration in Paris, protestors attempted to storm synagogues; in a previous demonstration in Sarcelles, many Jewish businesses were looted, which prompted Roger Cukierman, head of France’s main CRIF Jewish group, to express fears of “pogroms”.
On Tuesday, 4 men were given three to six month prison sentences for their roles in the Sarcelles violence; 3 others were handed three to five month suspended jail sentences for their role in the Paris violence.
National Collective for Just and Durable Peace between Israelis and Palestinians, the main organizer of the protest to be held on Wednesday, hailed the government’s decision to approve the demonstration.
“It’s a victory for democracy and freedom of expression”,President of the France-Palestine Solidarity Association Taoufiq Tahani said. The group was among those who had called for the rally.
Political parties in France have for the most part hailed the decision to permit Wednesday’s demonstration.
Other demonstrations on Wednesday will be held in the cities Lyon, Lille, Reims and Toulouse. The demonstrations have been called by pro-Palestinian groups, far-left groups and unions. Another demonstration will be held on Saturday in Paris. The government is yet to take a decision on Saturday’s protest.