French Communists join massive protest against rise of anti-Semitism
Thousands gather for a march against anti-semitism in Paris, France, November 12, 2023 | AP

French communists turned out in large numbers on Sunday across France to join at least 180,000 people protesting against the rise of anti-Semitism.

In the largest march against anti-semitism in Paris since a 1990 demonstration against the desecration of a Jewish cemetery, about 100,000 took to the streets.

The French Interior Ministry reports that since the surprise Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 and the brutal Israeli retaliation, there have been 1,247 anti-Semitic acts recorded in France.

French President Emmanuel Macron did not attend the march but expressed his support for the protest and called on citizens to rise up against “the unbearable resurgence of unbridled anti-Semitism.”

The French Communist Party (PCF) originally intended to boycott the march if the far-right National Rally (RN), led by Marine Le Pen, were going to take part but decided to march.

But the PCF still slammed the RN’s participation in the march, citing its record of anti-Semitism in a country with the highest Jewish population in Europe.

Paris Senator and PCF spokesman Ian Brossat said on Saturday: “RN leaders are not welcome at the march against anti-Semitism.

“Even today, the far-right is fighting against the Gayssot Law which allows racist, anti-semitic, and Holocaust denial remarks to be condemned.”

The 1990 Gayssot Law makes it an offense in France to question the existence or size of crimes against humanity.

PCF Secretary General Fabien Roussel said: “It was communists who made it possible to condemn anti-semitic Holocaust denial and racist remarks. The far right has always fought to repeal it.”

He said: “How can they demonstrate against anti-semitism at the same time?”

Ms. Le Pen dismissed critics, saying that she and her party were “exactly where we need to be.”

But France Unbowed leader Jean-Luc Melenchon stayed away from the march, saying last week on the X social media site that it would be a meeting of “friends of unconditional supporters for the massacre” in Gaza.

Patrick Klugman, a lawyer and a member of the Freethem committee working to obtain the release of people held by Hamas, said that the large participation in the march is meaningful and symbolic in reassuring Jewish communities in France.

He said: “I am very proud of my country because of this mobilization.

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Roger McKenzie
Roger McKenzie

Roger McKenzie is the International Editor of Morning Star, Britain’s daily socialist newspaper. He is the author of the book "African Uhuru: The Fight for African Freedom in the Rise of the Global South" published by Manifesto Press.