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Paris Olympics: Pro-Palestinian protesters demand Israel's participation be limited as was Russia's

Paris Olympics: Pro-Palestinian protesters demand Israel's participation be limited as was Russia's
A demonstrator in Saint-Denis France holds a poster reading "No Games for genocidal, boycott Israel" outside the Paris Olympic organizing committee HQ, on Apr. 30, 2024.   -  
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Several hundred pro-Palestinian protesters gathered near the Paris Olympics organizers’ headquarters on Tuesday (Apr. 30) and called for limiting Israel's participation at the Summer Games in the French capital.

About 300 people attended the rally at the headquarters of the Paris Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the suburb of Saint-Denis, waving Palestinian flags and chanting slogans against Israel’s “institutional participation” in the Games because of the war in Gaza.

Citing the example of Russian athletes, who will be competing at the Olympics under a neutral flag and with no Russian government officials allowed at the Games, protesters said the International Olympic Committee should apply the same protocol for the Israelis.

“They didn’t need more than four days to decide to ban Russia and Belorussia from the Olympics after the invasion of Ukraine,” said Nicolas Shahshahani, a member of the EuroPalestine activist group, who took part in Tuesday’s protest. “They are prepared to welcome the Israeli delegation.”

"Disproportionate response"?

In an interview earlier this month, French President Emmanuel Macron backed the IOC’s decision to allow Russian athletes to compete in the Olympics despite the Ukraine invasion, but under a neutral flag.

He defended the participation of Israeli athletes under their country’s flag despite its offensive in Gaza since Oct. 7, when Hamas-led militants stormed into southern Israel and killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducted around 250 hostages. 

The Israeli offensive has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children.

“We cannot say that Israel is attacking,” Macron said. “Israel was a victim of a terrorist attack to which it is now responding to in Gaza.”

Macron's stance doesn't win unanimous support though.

Israel's military response has been criticized with Spain's PM and observers calling it "disproportionate".

Moreover, France has seen many pro-Palestinian marches take place since October 7th.

Politicians, journalists and activists who have criticized Israel's ongoing military offensive have been questioned by the police in recent weeks.

Tuesday’s protests came days after pro-Palestinian students, inspired by Gaza solidarity encampments at campuses in the United States of America, staged protests and tried to occupy campus buildings at France’s two prestigious universities in the Paris region.

On Monday (Apr. 28), French police removed 50 students from the Sorbonne university after pro-Palestinian protesters occupied the main courtyard. Last week, protests broke out at the Paris Institute of Political Studies, known as Sciences Po, as pro-Palestinian students attempted to occupy an amphitheater.

The Olympic Games in Paris will take place in July 26-Aug. 11 followed by the Aug. 28- Sept. 8 Paralympics.

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