Parisians protest against Islamophobia amid Gaza war tensions

By Manuel Ausloos and Louise Dalmasso

PARIS (Reuters) - A crowd of around 2,000 people protested in Paris against racism, Islamophobia and violence against children on Sunday after a court allowed their demonstration to go ahead.

Bans on protests have been more frequent in France in recent months amid tensions stirred by Israel's war on Hamas in Gaza. In a country that is home to large Muslim and Jewish communities, authorities have banned many pro-Palestinian demonstrations and public gatherings, citing the risk of antisemitic hate crimes and violence.

On Sunday, the protesters marched peacefully from the multi-ethnic Barbes neighbourhood towards Place de la Republique. Many chanted slogans remembering Nahel, a 17-year-old of North African descent who was fatally shot during a police traffic stop last year.

Paris police chief Laurent Nunez told broadcaster BFM TV he initially chose to ban the march because in announcing the protest the organisers had likened French police violence to the war in Gaza, and he felt the event could cause a threat to public order.

That argument was rejected by Paris's administrative court in a fast-track decision.

"Fighting and mobilizing for the protection of all children is normal, it should be," said Yessa Belkgodja, one of the organisers of the march, welcoming the court's decision.

"If we are banned from protesting, it means we don’t have the right to express ourselves in France (..) We are being monitored on social media. That's enough, leave us alone", said Yamina Ayad, a retiree who was wrapped in Palestine flag.

(Reporting by Manuel Ausloos, Louise Dalmasso; Writing by Tassilo Hummel; Editing by Frances Kerry)