“For the Republic, against anti-Semitism”: more than 182,000 people marched on Sunday, in Paris and throughout France, to denounce the increase in the number of anti-Semitic acts in our country since the attack perpetrated on October 7 by Hamas against Israel. In this very tense international context, these demonstrations were subject to maximum security, with more than 3,000 police and gendarmes mobilized in the capital. On Saturday, the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, asked the prefects to “guarantee extreme security” of the marches, “encouraging” state representatives to “personally participate” in the various mobilizations.

In Paris, the procession set off shortly after 3 p.m. from the National Assembly district, heading towards the Senate district. The leading square of the Parisian procession, arriving at its destination around 4:45 p.m., brought together numerous political figures including Élisabeth Borne and several members of her government, the presidents of the Assembly and the Senate Yaël Braun-Pivet and Gérard Larcher, initiators of this “great civic march”, the former presidents of the Republic François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, former prime ministers, but also representatives of religions such as the chief rabbi of France, Haïm Korsia, and the bishop of Nanterre, Mgr. Matthieu Rougé.

Also read: The appeal of Gérard Larcher and Yaël Braun-Pivet: “For the Republic and against anti-Semitism, let us march”

A few meters behind this leading square, elected officials gathered by political chapel then the rest of the procession, 105,000 people in total according to the Paris police headquarters. Among the demonstrators, Ismail and Jasmin, both 27 years old. For the two men – neither are Jewish, Ismail is Muslim – it is “important to be present because it is a transpartisan march which must bring everyone together. What is happening to the Jews is unacceptable.” “It’s good that there are so many people, it’s especially important that there are lots of non-Jews,” adds Ava, 17, who “is not afraid in the lives of all days” but “ has been taking more precautions since October 7.” A little further on, Mathilde and Florence, in their forties, say they heard one of their friends tell them that a person of Jewish faith had asked her: “If necessary, would you hide us? » “It made us sad to imagine that Jews would ask themselves these kinds of questions,” lament the Parisian women.

The march, on the whole, took place peacefully. “He’s good-natured and patriotic,” comments Sylvie, 45 years old. The demonstration was notably punctuated by Marseillaise songs sung at the head of the procession, rounds of applause and slogans like “No, no, no to anti-Semitism”. Very few French flags and signs were visible. A serious but peaceful atmosphere, the polar opposite of that of the morning’s gathering, initiated by several youth organizations such as the Jeunes insoumis, the Student Union and the High School Union, in the presence of several LFI elected officials. The situation quickly became tense with counter-protesters opposed to the “instrumentalization” of the Vél d’Hiv roundup memorial. After the exfiltration of the opponents by the police, two wreaths of flowers were placed at the foot of the memorial, then a minute of silence for the victims of the Shoah was observed.

Elsewhere in France many smaller gatherings took place. More than a thousand people gathered in Tours at the initiative of the League against Racism and Anti-Semitism (Licra) Touraine. It was also a local branch of Licra which was at the origin of the Strasbourg rally, which brought together several thousand participants, including LFI executives from Paris because they refused to march alongside the National Rally. In Nice, two gatherings were held: one in the morning at the initiative of the mayor, Christian Estrosi, and the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France (Crif) of the South-East, the other in the afternoon at the call from the Association of Mayors of France (AMF). This call from the AMF to meet “in front of each department prefecture” was heard in several cities, including Angers, Bordeaux, Bourges, Grenoble, Nantes, Rennes, Toulon, Montpellier… “The French responded,” said delighted several political figures.