Published: 2021-05-16 13:21
Last Updated: 2021-06-12 01:11
French police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Paris Saturday, after the protest was banned by authorities days before out of fears of anti-Semitic violence.
The Ministry of the Interior announced that between 2,500 and 3,500 people gathered in the densely populated Barbas neighborhood in the north of the capital.
"You want to prevent me from showing solidarity with my people while my village is being bombed?" Mohammed, 23, wearing a T-shirt that read "Freedom for Palestine," told AFP.
44 people were arrested in Paris, and six others in other areas of France. In Paris and Nice, two policemen were lightly injured.
- 'Unacceptable' ban -
The decision to ban the march was issued Thursday against the backdrop of fears of renewed violent clashes that erupted during a similar march in Paris in the last Gaza war in 2014, at which time protesters attacked synagogues and Israeli Occupation and Jewish targets.
Friday, the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, told AFP: "We all remember this disturbing protest, during which shouts of 'Death to the Jews' were chanted.
She said the decision to welcome the ban was 'wise.'
But Walid Atallah, head of the Ile-de-France Palestinian League, accused the government of stoking tensions with the ban.
"If there were real risks of public chaos or serious problems, they (the police) would have banned them from the start," he said in a press conference before the start of the march.
"They banned it at the last moment - it's unacceptable," he added.
Similar demonstrations in Germany and Denmark this week have punctuated clashes and arrests.
Saturday, thousands participated in London and Madrid in demonstrations in solidarity with the Palestinians, who have been locked in violent clashes with the Israeli forces for days.
- Recurrence of disturbances? -
The demonstration was originally scheduled to commemorate the Nakba in 1948.
But a Paris court confirmed the ban on Friday, saying that "the international and domestic context" justified fears of unrest "that could be dangerous like 2014, or even worse."
"We do not want scenes of violence, we do not want to bring conflict to French soil, we do not want hatred to explode in our streets," government spokesman Gabriel Atal said Saturday in Marseille.