More than 180,000 people gathered in Paris on Sunday to march against anti-semitism in response to a surge in anti-Semitic incidents across France. The march was organized by Senate speaker Gerard Larcher and lower house speaker Yael Braun-Pivet, who emphasized the importance of fighting anti-semitism, which they believe goes against the values of the republic. The tensions in Paris have been escalating following the attack by Palestinian militant group Hamas on Israel on October 7, followed by a month of Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip.
More than 3,000 police and gendarmes were deployed to ensure security during the march. President Emmanuel Macron, in a letter published in Le Parisien, condemned the "unbearable resurgence of unbridled anti-semitism" in the country, stating that France should not be a place where any citizen, regardless of their religion or origin, lives in fear.
The march has been marred by political controversy, with some parties bickering over who should participate. The hard-left France Unbowed party announced that they would boycott the event, while the far-right National Rally planned to attend. Far-right leader Marine Le Pen called for the march to also stand against "Islamic fundamentalism," which is a central theme of her anti-immigrant party. Counter-demonstrators from left-wing Jewish organization Golem briefly attempted to prevent Le Pen from participating.
Despite these divisions, the majority of people came together behind the slogan "For the Republic, against anti-semitism" in major French cities, including Lyon, Nice, and Strasbourg. The march aimed to unite various political and social groups against anti-semitism. The Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, emphasized the importance of national cohesion and called for no posturing during the march.
The march comes in the wake of nearly 1,250 anti-Semitic acts recorded in France since the Hamas attack on Israel. Paris prosecutors are also investigating an incident on October 31 where buildings were vandalized with Stars of David, reminiscent of the Nazi occupation of Paris during World War II. The graffiti was widely condemned.
The march against anti-semitism follows a demonstration the day before, where thousands of people called for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. The left-wing organizers of that demonstration believe that France should take a stand against the ongoing violence in Gaza.