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Hollande pledges tough action against anti-Semitic slogans during Gaza protests

A demonstator throws a stone at police in Sarcelles on Sunday
A demonstator throws a stone at police in Sarcelles on Sunday AFP

President François Hollande has threatened to crack down on anti-Semitic slogans during Wednesday’s pro-Palestinian demonstrations in France. Prosecutors have appealed against suspended sentences on protesters arrested after banned protests last weekend.

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While insisting that the right to demonstrate will be respected at protests that have been authorised across France this Wednesday, Hollande declared that the state must ensure that “republican order” is respected and oppose “slogans that express hatred”,

Dossier: Gaza 2009

government spokesperson Stéphane Le Foll announced on Wednesday.

Earlier Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that anyone shouting the slogan “Death to the Jews!” – which is alleged to have been heard on previous demonstrations – will be arrested.

The government’s decision to ban four demonstrations last weekend has been criticised by the pro-Palestinian camp and Cazeneuve conceded that two of them ended in clashes between protesters and police, while the 60 authorised rallies did not.

Cazeneuve also condemned the “reprehensible” behaviour of members of the Jewish Defence League (LDJ), who have issued tweets challenging pro-Palestinians to fight them and clashed with them near a Paris synagogue after a demonstration earlier this month.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls has justified the authorisation of Wednesday evening’s demonstrations by claiming that the organisers were “more responsible” than those of last weekend’s protests.

Hollande on Wednesday repeated France’s support for an Egypt-brokered ceasefire, accepted by Israel but rejected by Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.

Paris prosecutors on Wednesday appealed against suspended sentences passed on demonstrators arrested in the capital at the weekend.

The harshest sentence – 10 months suspended – was passed on a 33-year-old engineer who was found guilty of resisting arrest.

“They arrest the people who run the slowest,” commented his lawyer, Nicolas Putman.

Five people, aged between 18 and 27, were given suspended sentences of between three and six months on Tuesday for throwing stones or teargas canisters at the police.

Prosecutors did not appeal against the dismissal of a case against a 26-year-old arrested while wearing a keffiyeh at Place de la Bastille, some distance away from the violence.

In nearby Pontoise on Tuesday four young men were given prison sentences for their part in violence in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles, where businesses, including two Jewish shops, were attacked.
 

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