France bans all pro-Palestinian demonstrations


France’s interior minister has banned all pro-Palestinian demonstrations in the country.

In a statement, Gérald Darmanin ordered foreign nationals who break the rules to be “systematically” deported.

The move comes as European governments fear a rise in antisemitism triggered by the Israel-Hamas war.

On Thursday, German police broke up a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Berlin.

France has a Jewish community of almost 500,000, the biggest in Europe. France’s Muslim community is also among Europe’s largest – an estimated five million.

Mr Darmanin told regional prefects that Jewish schools and synagogues should be protected by a visible police presence.

He earlier told French radio that 100 antisemitic acts had been recorded since Saturday. Most involved graffiti showing “swastikas, ‘death to Jews,’ calls to intifadas against Israel”. However, some incidents included people being arrested attempting to carry knives into schools and synagogues, he added.

French police are already guarding the homes of leading MPs. National Assembly President Yaël Braun-Pivet and MP Meyer Habib have been offered further protection.

In a separate move, Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz declared “zero tolerance” for antisemitism.

He told parliament a pro-Palestinian group that had celebrated the murders of Israeli civilians on Saturday would be banned.

Berlin police have also banned planned pro-Palestinian demonstrations, citing the risk of antisemitic statements and glorification of violence. Authorities said around 60 demonstrators complied with an order to leave Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz on Thursday.

French President Emmanuel Macron was due to give a TV address on Wednesday in a bid to prevent the war from escalating tensions.

Twelve French citizens are known to have died in the Hamas attack and Mr Macron told party leaders that of the 17 others missing, four were children.

It has also emerged that Assembly President Braun-Pivet has received death threats.

A member of President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party, she had parliament lit this week in the colours of the Israeli flag in response to the Hamas attack on Israel and called a minute’s silence before an Assembly session on Tuesday.

Ms Braun-Pivet also announced that Maryam Abu Daqqa, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), would be banned from attending a documentary screening in parliament next month. The militant organisation is recognised as a terrorist organisation by the EU.

Meyer Habib has also been given protection. He represents a constituency for overseas French citizens which includes Israel and the Palestinian Territories and is a vocal supporter of Israel. After the Hamas attack he said “we are witnessing the return of pogroms”.

French politics has been riven by the Hamas attack and its aftermath.

While most parties have condemned Saturday’s “terrorist attack” and expressed support for Israel’s right to respond, the initial response from Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s far-left La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) party was more equivocal.

A statement by the party referred to the Hamas attack as “an armed offensive of Palestinian forces”, prompting fierce criticism from other parties, including left-wing allies such as the Socialist and Communist parties.

In Germany, Chancellor Scholz told MPs in the Bundestag that Israel’s security was German state policy. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is due to travel to Israel on Friday in a gesture of solidarity.

Mr Scholz also announced that pro-Palestinian group Samidoun, which was pictured handing out sweets in the Neukölln area of Berlin to celebrate the Hamas attack, would be banned. “We do not tolerate antisemitism,” he added.

According to German authorities, in several towns across the country including Mainz, Braunschweig and Heilbronn, Israeli flags raised in solidarity with the country were torn down and destroyed, sometimes in just a few hours.

“The act disrespects and mocks the victims” of Hamas’s attack, Braunschweig’s mayor, Thorsten Kornblum, said.

Mr Scholz added that “without Iranian support, Hamas would not have been able to carry out these unprecedented attacks”