French court upholds government instruction to ban all pro-Palestine protests

By Layli Foroudi

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s highest administrative court rejected on Wednesday an appeal against an instruction from the French interior minister banning all pro-Palestinian protests, while stating that it is for local authorities to evaluate for each case the risks to public order.

In a note sent to regional police authorities, dated Oct. 12, the interior minister had ordered that “pro-Palestinian protests, because they are likely to generate disturbances to public order, must be banned”.

The appeal on the blanket ban instruction was brought by the organisation Comite Action Palestine, arguing that a total and absolute ban is not justified and encroaches on freedom of expression and assembly.

The Conseil d’Etat said in its decision that while the judges regret the approximative wording of the minister’s note, it’s intention was to instruct authorities to “ban all protests that support the Palestinian cause, that publicly justify or valorise, directly or indirectly, terrorist acts like those committed in Israel on October 7 by Hamas members.”

It added that authorities could not decide to ban a protest solely based on this note and that given the tensions and rise in antisemitism in France, protests that “support Hamas (…) are of a nature to provoke disturbances to public order.”

Vincent Brengarth, lawyer for Comite Action Palestine, told Reuters ahead of the decision that “it doesn’t make sense to say that pro-Palestine protests, by their nature, will generate disturbances to public order – look at the rest of the world, there are protests with thousands of people for Palestine.”

On Wednesday a few hours before the ruling, the police authorities of Marseille said two pro-Palestine protests were to be banned for “risks to public order in the current context.”

(Reporting by Layli Foroudi; editing by Jonathan Oatis)