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France

Banned Paris pro-Gaza protest ends in clashes

Youths throw stones at riot police in Paris's Place de la République on Saturday
Youths throw stones at riot police in Paris's Place de la République on Saturday Reuters/Benoit Tessier

French police arrested about 70 people at the end of a banned Gaza solidarity demonstration in Paris on Saturday. Around 5,000 people defied the ban to rally at the capital’s Place de la République.

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Some 2,000 riot police were deployed in the area and the protest was for the most part peaceful.

But some protesters threw stones and other projectiles at police who responded with teargas, leading to 70 arrests and 30 people being kept in detention, according to Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.

Dossier: Gaza 2009

French police refused to authorise the demonstration on the grounds that the organisers were the same as those behind last Saturday's protest, which ended in violence.

Police said they were under strict orders to detain anyone making anti-Semitic statements or gestures.

Many demonstrators draped themselves in Palestinian flags and chanted, “We are all Palestinians!”

“I'm calling upon all French people to boycott Israel,” one protester, Semina, told RFI. “It's the smartest response to stop the violence, just like they did in South Africa against apartheid.

Many were furious at what they saw as the pro-Israel positions of President François Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

“Hollande is in Israel's pocket,” said 18-year-old Abderhamane. “Valls said he was linked to Jewish community and to Israel for life.”

Christian Barin from the new anti-capitalist party (NPA), one of the organisations that called for the protest to go ahead, told RFI they were right to ignore the ban and exercise their right to protest against Israel.

Nearly 10,000 people demonstrated in the eastern city of Lyon and there were also authorised marches in Marseille and Nice.

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