More than 180,000 people turned out on Sunday to march against antisemitism in France following a spike in antisemitic hate crimes in the country. Political leaders joined the demonstration.
According to the interior ministry figures, around 182,000 people joined marches against antisemitism around France, including major cities like Lyon, Nice, and Strasbourg. The nationwide marches adopted the same slogan: “For the Republic, against antisemitism,” reports The Times of Israel.
One of the protesters said that fighting against antisemitism is “more than a duty.” “It’s a march against violence, against antisemitism, against all (political extremes) that are infiltrating the society, to show that the silent majority does exist,” he said.
Since the October 7 attack by Hamas on Israel, tensions have been rising in Paris, the capital city of France, which is home to the largest Jewish community in Europe and large Muslim communities. Family members of about 40 French citizens were killed in the initial Hamas onslaught, and many more are missing or held hostage.
The march in Paris was organised by Senate Speaker Gerard Larcher and lower house speaker Yael Braun-Pivet. They said that the demonstration is aimed at fighting against antisemitism, a phenomenon that is the total opposite of the values of the republic.
To maintain security during the demonstrations, more than 3,000 police and gendarmes were deployed in Paris.
At the front of the march were French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, the two speakers and dignitaries including former presidents Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, as well as religious leaders. Prime Minister Borne said, “There is no place for posturing” at the march, writing on X that “this is a vital battle for national cohesion.”
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen also attended the march, aiming to show the party has changed since her father’s ruling, and declaring that it should also serve to stand against “Islamic fundamentalism,” a central theme of her anti-immigrant party.
Left-wing parties and youth and rights organisations marched behind a common banner separated from the far right.
The hard-left France Unbowed (LFI) party boycotted the event. LFI leader Jean-Luc Melenchon rejected the march as a meeting of “friends of unconditional support for the massacre” of Palestinians in Gaza.
On the eve of the march, French President Emmanuel Macron — who did not attend Sunday — condemned the “unbearable resurgence of unbridled antisemitism” in the country. “A France where our Jewish citizens are afraid is not France,” he wrote in a letter published in Saturday’s Le Parisien.
Tens of Thousands gathered in Paris today to stand in solidarity with the Jewish community, in the wake of an alarming rise of antisemitism. 🇫🇷🇮🇱❤️👏 pic.twitter.com/Wg8K0xEUBr
— Charles Weber (@CWBOCA) November 12, 2023
Photo credit: Thomas SAMSON / AFP