SWC Commends French Interior Minister for Banning Passover Extremist March into Paris' Main Jewish Neighborhood

Paris, 7 April 2010

In a letter to French Interior Minister, Brice Hortefeux, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, commended the Minister and the Prefect of the Paris Police for “preventing a blatantly antisemitic demonstration scheduled for last Saturday, 3 April, on the grounds that the gathering presented the risk of violence and disruption to public order.”

Samuels noted that “organized by the pro-Palestinian Sheikh Yassin Association of the Mosque of Drancy, the demonstrators were to have marched on the Town Hall to protest against the official representatives of French Islam and against ‘interference by CRIF( the representative Council of French Jewry) in the affairs of the Muslim religion’”.

The letter described the plan as “a provocation in both time and place, by marching on a synagogue during the Passover Sabbath, in Drancy, the transit-point for 72,000 Jews deported to Auschwitz”, adding that “the police had defined the demonstration ‘within the sensitive international context…as appearing to transpose Israel-Palestine politics to French soil’”.

The Centre suggested, however, that “the primary aim of the organizers was, rather, to inflame divisions between the Muslim and Jewish communities of France.”

“Seven years ago, your then predecessor, as Minister of the Interior – now President of France – Nicolas Sarkozy, sent a delegation of French police officers to our Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. It is gratifying to see, that under your Ministry that cooperation is still bearing fruit.”

For further information contact Shimon Samuels on 0033(0)609770158