The biggest demonstration against the Israeli military intervention in the Gaza Strip took place on January 3 in Paris. More than 20,000 attended, most of them Muslims — many, in fact, radical Muslims. This was not just another pro-Palestine demonstration (there have been dozens of them every year since the start of the Second Intifada); this was an Islamist urban riot. Cars were burned, property was destroyed, and policemen were hurt by an angry mob of about 500 anti-Jewish youth, mostly coming from the suburbs of the capital city to loot and yell their hatred of anything Israeli, Jewish, or simply representing the French state, which they see as an ally of the “Zionists.”
The pro-Gaza demos began on December 30, 2008, when about 4,000 gathered in Paris at the call of the leftist parties (the Communists, the Green Party, and the Trotskyite Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire, but not the Socialists), and the major pro-Palestine organizations like the Association France-Palestine Solidarité. Even on the first day of their mobilization, it was clear that the crowd was asking for more than the usual slogans in support of the PLO, Mahmoud Abbas, and the “rights of the Palestinian people.” They were asking the French left to express open and plain support for Hamas and what it stands for: destroying the state of Israel and blaming the “Zionists” for every evil in the world. Within the French pro-Palestine movement, many think the Palestinian Authority is too moderate and say that the only “resistance” today is that of Hamas and Hezbollah. As a result, there were many flags with the emblem of both movements in the ranks of the demo. While the official slogan was “Stop the bombing and blockade in Gaza,” there was a huge flag in the crowd which read: “Paris - Gaza - Beirut - Kabul - Baghdad - Jenin, Resistance!” In other words: in the name of anti-imperialism, spread terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism on French soil.
On December 31, another demo took place in the heart of Paris, at the call of the Parti des Musulmans de France (PMF) and the Collectif Sheikh Yassine (Sheikh Yassin Group), named after the late leader of Hamas. The PMF is a radical fringe movement which is openly anti-Semitic. Its president, Mohammed Ennacer Latrèche, went on a trip to Iraq in 2003, just before Saddam’s fall, together with some of the most hard-line anti-Zionists from the extreme right, such as Hervé Van Laethem from Belgium and French members of the Réseau Radical, a national revolutionary group. The PMF, which marched through the heavily Muslim districts of northern Paris, had organized the demo by explaining that the Israeli strike was caused by the belief of the Tsahal soldiers in “their Torah, which has become an inspiration for committing the most filthy crimes.” The same slogans were repeated the following day, when Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was in Paris, by about 800 Islamists burning Israeli flags in front of the Paris Opera, while a bunch of radicals chanted, “Israel, you are Nazi” and “Long live Hamas.” Another popular slogan then was: “United Nations, in 48 you gave birth to a monster and you named it Israel.”