PARIS (AP) — French police fired tear gas as clashes broke out at a banned pro-Gaza demonstration on Saturday as thousands defied a ban on the protest.
The interior minister had earlier called on organizers of the Paris demonstration to observe the ban imposed to halt potential anti-Semitic violence.
At least 3,000 people gathered anyway at the Place de la Republique in eastern Paris under the watch of several hundred riot police, who blocked streets leading into the big square, cutting short plans for a march. Tension mounted as hundreds of protesters, some masked, began throwing stones and projectiles at police who responded with tear gas.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve made his public appeal to obey the ban shortly before the demonstration started. Hours earlier, the Council of State, France's top administrative body, ruled the protest ban was legal.
A court had ruled likewise, but organizers said they would exercise their right to protest.
"Every day is a day that counts" for those living in Gaza, said Olivier Besancenot, former head of the far-left New Anti-Capitalist Party.
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