Thousands defy France’s ban on anti-Semitic demonstrations

Thousands defy France’s ban on anti-Semitic demonstrations

Pro-Palestinian protesters clashed with police in central Paris on Saturday when thousands of marchers defied a ban by French authorities to rally against Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip.

French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve warned organizers in a television address that they would be held responsible for any clashes and could be prosecuted for ignoring a ban that was confirmed by the country’s top administrative court. …

By 1700 GMT (13:00 EST), most demonstrators had been evacuated from the square and order restored. Paris police said they had made about 50 arrests.

French authorities have refused to permit several pro-Palestinian protests because they feared violence. Marchers clashed with riot police in and around Paris in recent weeks, with some targeting synagogues and Jewish shops.

“Anti-Semitic violence exists: we must face it head on,” Cazeneuve said. …

According to the interior ministry, some 2,000 police were sent to the Place de la Republique to surround the demonstrators, which numbered about 5,000.

Reuters photographers saw one police officer slightly injured, the front windows of the Crowne Plaza hotel smashed and a bus shelter wrecked.

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