Over 180,000 People Across France, Including 100,000 in Paris, March in Solidarity Against Rising Antisemitism
In a massive demonstration of unity, over 180,000 people across France, with more than 100,000 in Paris alone, took to the streets on Sunday to protest the surge in antisemitism. This comes in the wake of the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
The marches, marked by a significant turnout and peaceful demonstrations, were attended by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, various political figures, including representatives from leftist parties, conservatives, centrists of President Emmanuel Macron‘s party, and far-right leader Marine Le Pen. However, President Macron was notably absent, though he expressed strong support for the protests, urging citizens to stand against the “unbearable resurgence of unbridled antisemitism.”
In contrast, Jean-Luc Melenchon, the leader of the far-left France Unbowed party, notably abstained from the event, criticizing it last week on X, formerly known as Twitter, as a gathering of “friends of unconditional support for the massacre” in Gaza.
The Parisian authorities deployed 3,000 police officers to manage the crowds and ensure security along the march’s route. This massive mobilization was a response to the alarming rise in anti-Jewish acts in France, which has the largest Jewish population in Europe.
Participants of various ages and backgrounds expressed their reasons for joining the march. Robert Fiel, 67, holding a French flag, emphasized that it was a duty to march against antisemitism, violence, and extreme political ideologies. Patrick Klugman, a lawyer and member of the “Freethem” committee, highlighted the significance of the large turnout for Jewish communities in France, expressing a sense of pride and solidarity.
Yonathan Arfi, president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF), acknowledged the encouraging support but questioned future actions against antisemitism. Israeli-French actor Tomer Sisley echoed this sentiment of unity, emphasizing the collective identity of the French people beyond religious and ethnic lines.
Former French President Francois Hollande, also in attendance, pointed out that the unity goes beyond national symbols, emphasizing values of freedom and human dignity.
The French government, as stated by President Macron in a letter published in Le Parisien newspaper, has vowed to prosecute and punish perpetrators of antisemitic acts. Macron, affirming his commitment in spirit if not in person, emphasized his role in fostering national unity and upholding values.
The presence of Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader, sparked controversy, with criticism surrounding her party’s historical antisemitic leanings. However, Le Pen defended her participation, urging other politicians to avoid politicizing the event.
This protest in Paris is noted as the largest gathering to condemn antisemitism in France since a 1990 demonstration against the desecration of a Jewish cemetery. The Interior Ministry reported 1,247 antisemitic acts since October 7, a significant increase from the previous year. In response to the Middle East conflict, France has largely banned pro-Palestinian demonstrations, though several such protests have occurred in recent weeks.