French high court overturns ban on two Palestine solidarity groups
A French high court suspended a French government decision outlawing two pro-Palestine groups for "antisemitism", French media reported on Friday.
The French Council of State, France's supreme court for administrative justice, found the government's decision to dissolve the Palestinian support groups unfounded. It also requested that the state pay 3,000 euros in compensation to each group.
"This decision is a slap in the face against authorities and flies in the face of the sionist far-right's propaganda conflating anti-zionism and anti-semitism," Palestine Vaincra wrote in a statement. The organisation thanked several collectives, including a Jewish pro-peace organisation, for their support in the legal battle.
France's decision to outlaw two pro-Palestinian organisations, Palestine Vaincra and Comité Action Palestine, sparked outrage in March.
The decision was taken by French President Emmanuel Macron himself and implemented through a decree issued by the Interior ministry. Gérald Darmanin, the Interior minister, accused the groups of "inciting violence, discrimination and provoking terrorist attacks".
The groups were charged with spreading statements by several Palestinian groups listed as terrorist organisations by the European Union, and of "inciting hatred" against Jews through calls to boycott Israel.
Other Palestinian solidarity movements across France expressed concern following the ban and denounced the French state's increasingly repressive attitude towards pro-Palestine groups.
In December 2019, the parliament adopted a bill that equated anti-zionism with anti-semitism, prompting backlash from activists who feared it would restrict any criticism of Israel. At the time, dozens of Jewish intellectuals slammed the new French bill saying it "delegitimises the legitimate act of criticising the state of Israel".
In May last year, Darmanin asked police to ban protests denouncing Israel's bombing of the besieged Gaza Strip under the pretext of "avoiding disturbances". Protest organisers appealed the ban to a French court to no avail.
Since the verdict on Friday, several far-left and Palestine support groups reported being targeted by an incipient cyber-harassment campaign. Their Twitter accounts, along with prominent pro-Palestine political figures and scholars, witnessed a massive surge in followers linked to "fake accounts" - newly created profiles with minimal following.
The purpose or strategy behind the attack are unclear. Fake profiles are sometimes used to generate a critical mass of reports against an account, forcing Twitter to take it down - at least temporarily.