182,000 march against antisemitism across France

This is the largest such demonstration for more than three decades

Marches were held to denounce the upsurge in antisemitic acts in France (Picture for illustration purposes only)
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More than 182,000 people took part in marches against antisemitism across France on Sunday (November 12), states the Ministry of the Interior.

Marches were held to denounce the upsurge in antisemitic acts since the Hamas attacks in Israel on October 7.

Read more: GRAPH: Number of antisemitic acts jumps in France

The Paris police prefecture counted 105,000 participants at the march in the capital city alone.

This is the largest demonstration against antisemitism since the protest march against the desecration of the Jewish cemetery in Carpentras in 1990.

Acknowledging the scale of the march in Paris, march organiser and Renaissance (centrist) president of the National Assembly, Yaël Braun-Pivet, said “we are happy and reassured that the French have answered the call"

Political participation

Despite being organised as a civic march, many political figures participated.

In Paris, Yaël Braun-Pivet and Les Républicains (centre-right) president of the Senate Gérard Larcher who initiated the demonstration, marched under the same banner as Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, former presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande.

Alongside them were current ministers (such as Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin and Minister of Justice Eric Dupond-Moretti), former heads of government such as Édouard Philippe, and representatives of many different religions.

Marine Le Pen, Jordan Bardella and other members of the Rassemblement national marched at the back of the procession.

Emmanuel Macron was absent. "I have never been to a demonstration of any kind," he said on Saturday, adding that he needs to "be firm on values" and “to act, otherwise I would be at a different demonstration every week.”

The president addressed the French people on Saturday evening via a letter published by Le Parisien newspaper in which he deplored "the unbearable resurgence of unbridled antisemitism."

Nearly seventy towns and cities involved

On Sunday rallies brought together thousands of people across nearly 70 towns and cities in France.

In Nice, nearly 3,000 people participated in a large rally at the call of the Les Républicains (centre-right) mayor Christian Estrosi and the local branch of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France.

In Lyon, more than 3,000 people gathered in Place Bellecour, in front of the statue of the Veilleur de Pierre, a memorial to the French resistance to the Nazi occupation, stated the prefecture.

In Lille, there were French flags flying, rainbow flags for peace and the ‘Marseillaise’ playing to a gathering of around 1,300 people.

About 7,500 people also marched in Marseille on Sunday, say police, with representatives across the political spectrum present.

Hatred turned into art

Artist Yehiel Attias has been inspired to turn antisemitic graffiti found on walls and buildings in Paris into works of art.

Taking the graffiti on rue Lacaze in the 14th arrondissement, Mr Attias has created a digital work of art with a child wearing a kippah with a heart-shaped balloon alongside hands holding an Israeli flag.

In this neighbourhood and in other Parisian arrondissements, blue Stars of David have been found spray-painted onto walls. He says his mission is to transform hatred into messages of peace.

Read more: Stars of David painted on walls of buildings in Paris and other towns

In response to the support shown on Sunday across France, he has created an adaptation of his artwork to show the balloon in the colours of the French flag.

The work was “born from a gratitude for the unshakeable support of all French people present at the march against antisemitism,” he said on Facebook.

“Each symbol has been transformed into an emblem of France and the Republic. Together, united in republican values we will eradicate antisemitism.”

The Strasbourg-based artist hopes to turn his digital designs into physical works of art if authorisation to do so comes.

Background to the marches

Antisemitic acts have sharply risen in France since the resurgence of the war between Hamas and Israel.

More than 1,000 such acts have been recorded in the past month – twice as many as in the whole of last year.

In fact, the number of antisemitic acts recorded in France has reached a 30-year high, with the acts recorded in the last month alone higher than in any full year before at least 1992.

“Our history forces us to be intransigent about antisemitism”, said former president Nicolas Sarkozy in an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche.

While the motives behind political figures’ participation were debated in the run up to the march, others stated that the demonstration should be about shared values.

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