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International News

PARIS, Nov 12, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - Tens of thousands are expected to march Sunday in Paris against anti-Semitism amid bickering by political parties over who should take part and a surge in anti-Semitic incidents across France.

More than 3,000 police and gendarmes will be deployed in the capital to maintain security at the "great civic march", according to Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin.

On the eve of the march, President Emmanuel Macron condemned the "unbearable resurgence of unbridled anti-Semitism" in the country.

"A France where our Jewish citizens are afraid is not France. A France where French people are afraid because of their religion or their origin is not France," he wrote in a letter published late Saturday in the daily Le Parisien.

He said Sunday's "great civic march" should show France as "united behind its values, its universalism".

However earlier Saturday, Macron said he would attend the march only "in my heart and in my thoughts".

Tensions have been rising in the French capital, home to large Jewish and Muslim communities, in the wake of the October 7 attack by Palestinian militant group Hamas on Israel, followed by a month of Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

France has recorded nearly 12,250 anti-Semitic acts since the attack.

National Assembly speaker Yael Braun-Pivet and Gerard Larcher, the Senate speaker, called Tuesday for a "general mobilisation" at the march against the upsurge in anti-Semitism.
They are to lead the march behind a banner stating "For the Republic, against anti-Semitism".

- 'More people, the better' -

The hard-left France Unbowed (LFI) party said it would boycott the event while the far-right National Rally (RN) plans to turn out.

"The more people there are, the better," said far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

She added that she was ready to march "at the back" if her attendance was a problem.

Government spokesman Olivier Veran said Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne would attend.

But the RN "does not have a place" in the march, Veran said.

Communist leader Fabien Roussel said he would "not march alongside" the RN, accusing it of being descended from people who were "repeatedly condemned for anti-Semitic remarks" and who "collaborated" with Nazi Germany.

LFI leader Jean-Luc Melenchon dismissed the march, describing it as a meeting of "friends of unconditional support for the massacre" of Palestinians in Gaza.

Among the long list of recent anti-Semitic acts, Paris prosecutors are investigating an incident on October 31, when buildings in the city and suburbs were daubed with dozens of Stars of David.

The graffiti, which brought back memories of the Nazi occupation of Paris during World War II and deportation of Jews to death camps, was condemned across the political spectrum.

The October 7 attack in Israel which saw about 1,200 killed, mainly civilians, and 240 people taken hostage, triggered the deadliest ever war in Gaza.

According to the Hamas-run healthy ministry in the besieged territory, the Israeli military campaign has killed more than 11,000 people, many of them children.