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French interior minister defends ban on protests

"The scale of the riots in the suburb of Sarcelles in Paris, following an unauthorised demonstration yesterday, would have widened without a decision to ban the demonstration," French Interior Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, said in defence of a ban on pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Paris last weekend.

The minister's remarks came in response to a question from reporters about whether he regrets the decision to ban demonstrations in Paris over the weekend. The minister stressed that the "ban" came after information about the demonstration, which was supposed to take place during the weekend, had been collected. Cazeneuve also pointed out that the cities of Nice and Lille, where demonstrations were also prevented, did not witness riots.

Cazeneuve explained that no ban on protests exists, but necessary procedures would rather be taken in the event protests threaten public order.

The minister added that the French people should behave properly with respect to the anti-Semitism that is growing in their country. He criticised the burning of a shop during Sunday's protests, because its owner is Jewish, saying, "some people seek to export the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to France".

Cazeneuve said that he understood the emotional responses to what is happening in the Gaza Strip, but would not allow violence to spill over into France, causing a wave of anti-Semitism.

The minister expressed his belief that there are a small group of radical Muslims in France that harms the reputation of the other Muslims who believe in tolerance and in the principles of the French Republic.

The suburb of Sarcelles in Paris witnessed, on Sunday, an unauthorised demonstration that involved riots, during which at least four cars were burned, car windows were smashed and a number of shops were burnt. Following the demonstration, police arrested 44 people, seven of which were referred to the courts.

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