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Against the Criminalization of Opinion and in Defense of Our Right to Support Palestine: We Must Stand Up!

In France, the repression of Palestine supporters is escalating. A conference by La France Insoumise (LFI) has been banned; a union leader has been arrested and charged for speaking out for Palestine; court cases have increased against those who “condone terrorism”; and the state has stepped up its “anti-terrorism” efforts. In the face of all this, we must stand together.

Nathan Deas

April 23, 2024
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A mash-up of Macron over a palestinian flag and articles detailing the rising repression

Summons of activists from Révolution Permanente — including union activist and former presidential candidate Anasse Kazib, as well as activists from Solidaires Etudiant.e.s EHESS — and several dozen supporters of Palestine, by the “anti-terrorism unit” as part of an investigation for “condoning terrorism.” Jean-Paul Delescaut, the secretary of UD CGT 59, received a one-year probation sentence for a statement of support for the Palestinian people mentioning the “military and colonial occupation” carried out by Israel in Palestine.

A France Insoumise conference on Palestine during the European election campaign was banned by the University of Lille and banned by the local government. The state banned a march in Paris on April 14 against racism, Islamophobia, police violence, and the genocide in Gaza. Finally, on Friday, Rima Hassan, a Palestinian candidate for the LFI in the European elections, was summoned for “condoning terrorism.”

In recent days, the repression of supporters of Palestine has become more intense and audacious. The banning of France Insoumise’s conference is nothing other than the prohibiting of the actions of the third most influential political force in the last presidential elections.

This is obviously not unrelated to France’s unconditional support for Israel and its genocide masked behind Macron’s hypocritical calls for a “ceasefire.” Nor is it unrelated to the French state’s months-long attempts to silence and criminalize any public expression of solidarity with the Palestinian people, as well as anyone who would “dare” to denounce the crimes of the Israeli military and Israeli apartheid. These attempts were backed by most “mainstream media” and a broad political spectrum (from some components of the “former NUPES” to the Far Right Rassemblement National, RN).

“This escalation,” says Elsa Marcel, a lawyer and activist with Révolution Permanente, “is part of the political and judicial hardening of the regime in recent years.” She continues,

All the legal arsenal that has been meticulously constructed by successive governments has in recent months shown its full potential. For example, in 2014, the offense of “condoning terrorism” was removed from the press criminal law and inserted into the penal code. The penalty for this offense has continued to escalate. Today, the consequences of these ramifications are obvious, especially regarding the repression of political opposition. What is at stake goes far beyond the Palestinian issue, but concerns fundamental political freedoms. At this rate, there will be nothing to prevent [the state] from prosecuting “eco-terrorist” activists who support Sainte-Soline, for example, for “condoning terrorism.” The entire social and political movement is concerned.

In this context, the escalation of recent days must be taken seriously. It is a symptom of a toxic atmosphere, between the rise of the Far Right and warmongering escalation, and of an authoritarian turn that continues to expand (in schools, against neighborhoods, the ecological movement, the working world, in preparation for war and austerity). The state seems to want to attack all dissenting voices, and it does not hesitate to use fallacious pretexts, notably by tarnishing the legitimate struggle against antisemitism to do so.

We must defend our democratic, political, and union rights, for the right to express our solidarity with the Palestinian people. The entire Palestine solidarity movement, the organizations of the workers’ and political movements of our social camp, must stand together and prepare a united response commensurate with these attacks. This urgency is all the more central, because in Gaza, imperialist powers continue to “bargain” for the massacre of Palestinians and the forthcoming offensive in Rafah in exchange for a few tokens from the Netanyahu government to avoid a regional conflagration for which Israel and its supporters are responsible. Against the thought police that the regime wishes to establish, for Palestine and for the defense of our democratic rights: we will not be silent.

This article originally appeared in French in Revolutión Permanente.

Translation by Nadia Ben Omar

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