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France may ban violent pro-Israel group JDL

Source in the French Interior Ministry says there was evidence that the JDL ‘causes discrimination, hatred and violence’
Members of the Jewish Defence League demonstrate in Clamart, south of Paris on 01 November 2004 (AFP)

France is seeking to ban a notoriously violent Jewish group which plans to show its support for Israel on the streets of Paris Thursday.

As thousands of pro-Israeli protestors prepared for a peaceful demonstration outside the country’s embassy, Interior Ministry sources confirmed they wanted to outlaw the Jewish Defence League (JDL), which also plans to turn up.

It was behind a bloody attack on pro-Gaza supporters in the Bastille area of Paris on July 13th when vigilantes waived metal bars and gas canisters while chanting ‘F*** Palestine’.

A source in the civil liberties and legal affairs department of the Ministry said there was evidence that the JDL ‘causes discrimination, hatred and violence’ and could ‘thus be outlawed’.

Newspapers including Liberation and Le Monde today report that a ban is being investigated, with a senior police source confirming the information to AFP, France’s news agency.

Viewed by many, including the majority of Jews in France, as a ‘private militia’, the JDL is outlawed in Israel and considered a terrorist organisation by the FBI in the United States.

France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has condemned it for its ‘reprehensible acts’.

As the death toll in Gaza grows higher by the day, and the Israeli army kills hundreds of children, the French authorities fear counter demonstrations will challenge today’s rally outside the Israeli Embassy in Paris.

‘It is not an actual march, but large crowds are expected and security will match this,’ said a Paris police spokesman. ‘Tensions are clearly very high’.

A number of pro-Palestine demonstrations have been banned in Paris this month, following violence at unauthorised gatherings.

Many of the pro-Palestinians have accused the police of colluding with Jewish vigilante groups, allowing them free rein to carry weapons and attack their enemies. 

Abdallah Zekri, head of the National Observatory of Islamophobia , told AFP news agency that the JDL ‘creates a lot of problems, including racist attacks but the authorities do not denounce it with any commitment.’

Mr Zekri added: ‘I demand its dissolution. It is an extremist and racist association that practises violence. Organisations that practise violence, wherever they come from, must be dissolved.’

Today’s rally is organised by France’s Representative Council of Jewish Organisations (CRIF), who have called for a peaceful show of support for Israel.

It has complained about growing anti-Semitism in France, which is home to Europe's biggest Muslim and Jewish populations, as the war in the Middle East intensifies.

Clashes between so-called ‘soldiers’ of the JDL and pro-Palestine supporters close to a Paris synagogue were caught on video on July 13th.

JDL members originally claimed that the synagogue was under attack, and this false claim was picked up on by politicians who called for pro-Palestine rallies to be banned.

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