Paris, France saw several thousand gathered in Place de la République, to protest the Israeli War on Gaza. But these protests, coming to a culmination on Saturday, in spite of a state ban on the demonstration, have taken an ugly turn.
While many protesters stayed focused on criticizing the Israeli State itself, chanting “Israel is an assassin, Holland is an accomplice” and “we are all Palestinians,” some were seen gesturing the quenelle, a reverse Nazi-salute, according to the AFP.
“This event is illegal, but for us it is more than legitimate. This is to show our solidarity with people who are now being massacred,” Hugo, a New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) activist, said to the AFP. But the protests are being used as anecdotes throughout the world, suggesting that the pro-Palestinian voices in France are anti-Jewish, not just against Israel’s operations in Gaza.
France has Western Europe’s largest Jewish and Muslim populations, and a history of oppressing North African Muslims during the colonial period. Some suggest that this is behind the French instances of anti-Jewish attitudes and adoption of Nazi salutes, saying that this is not the norm in protests for Gaza outside of France.
Two banned pro-Gaza protests had huge turn outs last weekend, both in Paris and Sarcelles, to the north. Disappointingly, both degenerated into violence and attacks on Jewish synagogues, further harming the movement for Gazan civilians.