France’s interior minister Gérald Darmanin ordered local prefects via Telegram to ban all pro-Palestinian demonstrations and to arrest all troublemakers.
His move has come amid a sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents nationwide since the Hamas terror attack and Israeli retaliations.
Earlier, French President Emmanuel Macron said in a televised speech that French people should not let the Middle East conflict trigger tensions at home.
The interior minister wants prefects to ban pro-Palestinian demonstrations that are “likely to cause public order disturbances”.
“The organisation of these banned demonstrations should lead to arrests,” he said.
He also urged officials to “systematically and visibly protect all locations” that are “frequented by Frenchmen of the Jewish faith”.
“Foreign actors” who do not comply with the ban “should have their residence permits systematically revoked, and their deportation carried out without delay”, the interior minister added.
Finally he ordered that public prosecutors must be systematically informed of any crime or offence of an anti-Semitic nature.
Despite Darmanin’s directives, just hours later thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters took to the streets of Paris. Demonstrators shouted pro-Palestinian sentiments and carried banners reading “End the Siege of Gaza” in the capital’s Place de la République.
Chants heard included “Israel murderer” and “Macron accomplice” as they marched through the city.
“Zionists, Zionists, you are terrorists,” could also be heard. The monument in the centre of the Place de la République was spray-painted with the words “Free Palestine” in capital letters.
The size of the protest by Hamas supporters in Paris yesterday was massive
Macron has now banned such protests
Friday is the traditional day of protest in the Arab world, with communities gathering in mosques before hitting the streets, as we saw during the Arab Spring in 2011 pic.twitter.com/bqfQZAY3lD
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) October 13, 2023
CAPJPO-Europalestine, a pro-Palestinian organisation, failed in its bid to obtain an injunction to reverse the prohibition.
When police arrived to disperse the Paris crowd, violence broke out. Stones were thrown at officers, who responded with tear gas and water cannon.
The police estimate some 3,000 protestors took part and around a dozen were arrested and 24 handed fines.
Major riots erupted tonight in Paris.
The riot police is clashing with Hamas supporters pic.twitter.com/H00uLSLk5g
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) October 12, 2023
Pro-Palestine organisations insisted they would continue to call for protests as they “give a political outlet to an anger that wants to be expressed”, according to Bertrand Heilbronn of the Association France-Palestine Solidarité.
“It’s about time France got its act together and got out of this unconditional support for the State of Israel,” he added.
More protests are expected on October 13, as Muslims are set to gather at mosques for the first Friday prayers since the Israel-Palestine conflict started.