Mikael and Laurent hold a banner that alludes to one of the best-known and most covered songs by French artist Charles Trenet: “Sweet Franceje t’aime, ne m’oblige pas à te quitter” (Sweet France, I love you, don’t force me to leave you). Both are Jews and do not rule out leaving the country where they were born if anti-Semitic acts continue. They are more than 1,100 in just over a month, triple that of all of last year. “We do not want this future for our children, Children are afraid to leave the house. When they get on the bus they are afraid to raise their heads, in case they are insulted,” says Mikael, who regrets that France (he paraphrases the song) “is no longer the country of my childhood.”
More than fifty cities have celebrated this Sunday peaceful marches against the wave of antisemitism of recent weeks. Acts against the Jewish community have spiked after the Hamas attacks on October 7 and the Israeli response.
According to the Prefecture, there have been 185,000 protesters throughout France, about 105,000 in Paris. The country has the largest Jewish community in Europe, but also the Muslim one. They also wanted to be on the street this Sunday to claim “that there is no rupture, We defend the same cause and we have the same enemies, who are the enemies of life,” says a man holding a flag that, he says, represents “the Berber people and the countries of North Africa.”
The demonstration, attended by political parties and representatives of the Government, has been controversy due to the absence of some and the presence of others. France Insoumise (LFI), the far-left party led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, did not participate and held its parallel march against the war in Gaza on Saturday. Yes, the rest of the leftist formations (socialists, environmentalists and communists) have done so, which shows the isolation of LFI within this bloc.
The controversial presence was that of far-right leader Marine Le Pen. Anti-Semitism is at the origins of his party, founded by his father, Jean Marie Le Pen, who was convicted for it. A legacy that the current opposition leader wants to get rid of in this process of dediabolization of her party: normalize her speech before the French and move away from the most radical positions.