France's anti-dissent campaign: A call for freedom of expression and human rights

According to Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor students in French University are facing more and more pressure during the protest against Israel’s action against Gaza. Different types of harmful tactics are used by the Government against people involved in the protest and support of Palestine. Recently the French Police broke up the student protest and took down their tents. Sme incident also happened at Sciences Po, another university, where this led to funding being cut by the Paris region.

Student protest at Sorbonne University

At Sorbonne University students show support for Palestinians by peaceful protesting. They raise awareness about the ongoing conflict in Gaza. However the French police disrupt their protest and treat them harshly. They also dragged some students across the ground and also took down tents. All of these stories were told to the Euro-Med Monitor by different students of the University. Fifty protesters were forcibly removed from the campus, with security guards assisting in taking them away in groups.

Videos that Euro-Med Monitor reviewed show French police officers dragging two students and using physical force against them. Notably, on that same day, Sorbonne University administration closed its buildings during the peaceful protests, while students chanted slogans like “free Palestine” and called for the university administration to denounce Israel.

According to French police they did all of this with the request of the University administrator. However, they have not addressed the videos showing police officers entering the student tents and forcibly removing people from the campus.

Euro-Med Monitor has raised concerns about increasing repression and intimidation in France. This is illustrated by the French police summoning Mathilde Panot, the leader of a French leftist party and parliamentary group, on charges of “justifying terrorism”.

Panot asserts that this is the first time in modern French history that a parliamentary leader has been called in for questioning on such severe charges, warning that this could be a sign of political repression and a threat to public freedoms.

France Unbowed (LFI), Panot’s party, is currently the largest left-wing political group in France. It has criticized what it sees as a decline in the freedom of speech and expression for those who speak out against Israel’s actions in Gaza, which they label as “genocide.”

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of LFI and a former presidential candidate, has described the police’s summoning of politicians who are critical of Israel as unprecedented in French democratic history. He accuses the authorities of trying to shield what he calls the “genocide” happening in Gaza.

French Police Target Palestinian-Origin Activist

French police have also gone after Rima Hassan, a French activist of Palestinian descent who is running for the European Parliament. She was summoned by the police because she spoke out in support of Gaza, and they charged her with “justifying terrorism.”

Hassan talked to the French newspaper Le Monde about how worried she is about the way political voices in France that support Palestine are being treated. She said that this kind of political pressure is threatening public freedoms and the state of democracy in France. It’s especially concerning because the European parliamentary elections are coming up in June, a crucial time for France’s political future.

Charging Rima Hassan, a candidate for the European Parliament, with weak accusations during her campaign is a clear violation of her right to run for office and of the fairness of parliamentary elections. This also raises concerns about France’s tendency to criminalize efforts to draw attention to Israeli actions in Gaza.

The behavior of French authorities for those who are involved in protest and raise voice in favor of Palestine is clearly against the France legal obligations.

These include international laws, as well as European and French laws on freedom of expression. Article 11 of the EU Charter, for instance, grants everyone the right to express their opinions and share information without interference. Similarly, Article 12 allows everyone the freedom to gather peacefully.

The French government should respect those who support Palestine and stop repressing them. Furthermore, French police also make sure that residents of this nation are free to speak and express their opinions, exercise their civil rights and also hold peaceful protests.

More to explorer

Newsletter Signup

Sign up to receive the latest publications, event invitations, and our weekly newsletter delivered to your inbox.