French police arrest head of Palestine advocacy group, ban pro-Palestine rally
Police in France have arrested the head of a Palestine advocacy organization after putting a ban on a rally against Zionist entity’s atrocities.
French security forces arrested Bertrand Heilbronn as he left the foreign ministry in Paris, according to L'Association France-Palestine Solidarité, AFPS, the group of which he is president.
“The Paris Police Prefecture, in an unprecedented move, had prohibited the rally, although there had never been the slightest problem with the demonstrations that we had always organized in cooperation with the authorities,” AFPS said in a statement.
Bertrand Heilbronn, 71, had been at a meeting with officials as part of a civil society delegation before being detained, the US-based Electronic Intifada, an online publication covering the events, reported.
The besieged Gaza Strip has been under ceaseless airstrikes by the Israeli regime for the past several days.
The Palestinian health ministry said Thursday the death toll from Israel’s raids has risen to 87, including 18 children and eight women. According to Palestinian officials, some 95 percent of the victims are civilians.
Elsa Faucillon, a member of the French parliament, posted a video on her Twitter account of Heilbronn surrounded by police forces as he left the foreign ministry, adding that he was arrested over organizing the “pacifist rally” in support of Palestine. She and several other legislators had attended the meeting.
AFPS said that it had cooperated with the decision to ban the rally, with Heilbronn and the leaders of other participating groups on hand “to inform those who arrived at the rally site that it had been prohibited, and to guarantee that the events proceeded as well as possible.”
However, the group said, Heilbronn was detained upon exiting the foreign ministry and was taken to a police station where he was handcuffed to a bench.
Late Wednesday night, AFPS tweeted that he had “finally been released.”
“The prohibition of this demonstration leads us to conclude – as we already were aware – that freedom of expression and public liberties are in danger in our country,” AFPS said.
“But this arrest forces us to state that a threshold has been crossed.”
The group further noted that its members across France would be joining with other solidarity groups for rallies across the European country scheduled to be held in the coming days. “Dictatorial methods will not prevent us from doing this,” it said.
On Thursday, AFPS said in a statement that the interior ministry “will have to explain itself” over the detention of Heilbronn, stressing that Paris must also end “these repeated and scandalous attacks on liberty of expression and demonstration.”
Despite its pretensions of being a bastion of free speech, France is one of the most repressive countries in the world against supporters of Palestinian rights, Electronic Intifada said.
Paris is also in the midst of a racist and Islamophobic campaign of incitement and repression against French Muslims, it added.
France asks police to ban pro-Palestinian Paris protest
Meanwhile, France’s interior minister asked police on Thursday to ban a pro-Palestinian protest in Paris this weekend over the conflict with Israel under the excuse that it fears a repeat of clashes during a similar situation in 2014.
French pro-Palestine activists had called the protest in the Barbes district of northern Paris to demonstrate against Israel’s use of force in the Gaza Strip in response to the rocket fire by Hamas resistance group, AFP reported.
“I have asked the Paris police chief to ban the protests on Saturday linked to the recent tensions in West Asia,” Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin wrote on Twitter.