Tens of thousands of people marched in Paris on Sunday against rising antisemitism witnessed in France since October 7, when the Palestinian militant group Hamas attacked Israel, killing some 1,200 people.
Paris authorities deployed 3,000 police along the route of the protest, which was called by the leaders of the Senate and the lower house of parliament, the National Assembly.
"This is a vital battle for national cohesion," Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne wrote on X, previously known as Twitter, before joining the front of the march alongside other prominent figures including two speakers, former Presidents Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, as well as religious leaders.
Family members of some of the 40 French citizens killed in the initial Hamas attack, as well as those missing or held hostage, also participated in the march.
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 antisemitism."
Far-right in rally, far-left out
The rally also marked a turning point in French politics, as it was attended by Marine Le Pen, who represented the far-right National Rally (RN).
The National Rally (RN) was known for decades as the National Front (FN), led by her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen — a convicted Holocaust denier.
A group of counter-demonstrators from left-wing Jewish organization Golem briefly attempted to prevent her from taking part before being sidelined by police.
At the same time, the far-left France Unbowed (LFI) party boycotted the event. LFI leader Jean-Luc Melenchon dismissed the march as a gathering of "friends of unconditional support for the massacre" of Palestinians in Gaza.
Surge of antisemitism in France
France is home to the largest Jewish community in Europe, numbering approximately 500,000. Tensions have risen in the country, which also has large Muslim communities, after the October 7 attack and a month of Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip.
As of Saturday, officials counted 1,247 antisemitic acts since October 7. That is nearly three times as many as in all of 2022, according to the Interior Ministry.
Among the long list of recent antisemitism incidents, Paris prosecutors are investigating an October 31 incident in which dozens of Stars of David had been spray-painted on buildings in the city and its suburban areas.
Earlier Sunday, thousands of people gathered in major French cities including Lyon, Nice and Strasbourg behind the same slogan as the march in the capital: "For the Republic, against antisemitism."
dh/ab (AP, AFP)