France rallies to denounce anti-Semitic insults at protests

Source:AFP Published: 2019/2/19 19:58:40

Mass rallies were planned in Paris and other French cities Tuesday to denounce a flare-up of anti-Semitic acts which culminated in a violent tirade against a prominent writer during "yellow vest" anti-government protests last weekend.

Political leaders of all stripes called the rallies after a protester was caught on video calling the philosopher Alain Finkielkraut a "dirty Zionist" and telling him that "France belongs to us."

Finkielkraut had initially supported the yellow vest movement, before criticizing the violence carried out against police forces by a fringe of suspected far-right and far-left demonstrators.

Protesters also launched anti-Semitic abuse at Ingrid Levavasseur, who tried to lead a yellow vest list for coming European Parliament elections, in Paris over the weekend.

President Emmanuel Macron called the insults "the absolute negation of who we are and what makes us a great nation. We will not tolerate it."

His office said he would not take part in the rallies, though Prime Minister Edouard Philippe will be among several government officials at a Paris march starting at 7 pm at Place de la Republique.

The yellow vest protests began last November against high fuel taxes and rising costs of living blamed on Macron's policies, which critics say favor the well-off.

But officials accuse the grass-roots movement of helping unleash a wave of extremist violence that has fostered anti-Semitic outbursts among some participants.

"This is the response to the national wake-up call we urged last week," said Francis Kalifat of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish organizations.

He was referring to a spate of anti-Jewish vandalism and graffiti discovered in and around Paris in the days following another Saturday of yellow vest protests.

Graffiti on the headquarters of French daily Le Monde used anti-Semitic tropes to refer to Macron's former job as a Rothschild investment banker.

Last year, police recorded a 74 percent surge in reported anti-Jewish offenses.

Posted in: EUROPE

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