Pro-Gaza protesters defy Paris demonstration ban
Three Gaza solidarity demonstrations were banned in France on Saturday, with up to 3,000 defying the ruling in Paris and other authorised protests going ahead in about 15 other cities.
About 2-3,000 people assembled in the largely immigrant Barbès area of Paris on Saturday afternoon, following a call by the far-left New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) to defy the Paris ban.
Police prevented them marching into the city centre.
Following orders from Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve to examine the “danger to public order” posed by demonstrations this weekend, protests were also banned in Nice in the south-east and Sarcelles, near Paris.
President François Hollande earlier threatened that “those who want to demonstrate at any price” could be punished.
Organising a banned protest can be punished by up to six months in jail, according to French law.
Authorised demonstrations went ahead in about 15 towns and cities, including Marseille, Lille, Lyon, Nîmes and Montpellier.
Seven Socialist MPs have criticised the ban, as has the Green party, EELV, which was in the governing coalition until the appointment of Prime Minister Manuel Valls.
Ministers justified the ban by referring to reports of attacks on two Paris synagogues after a pro-Gaza demonstration last Sunday, although the circumstances of the clashes between some protesters and the far-right Jewish Defence League have proved controversial.
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