Paris suburb honors jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — The municipality of a Parisian suburb honored Palestinian Fatah faction leader Marwan Barghouti, who is serving multiple life sentences in Israel for acts of terrorism against civilians.

The naming of Barghouti as honorary citizen of Aubervilliers on Dec. 22 came shortly before a French court ordered the nullification of an honor conferred by another Parisian suburb, Bezons, on another Palestinian, Majdi Irhima al-Rimawi, who assassinated Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi more than a decade earlier.

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CRIF, the umbrella of France’s Jewish communities, on Dec. 24 wrote to Aubervilliers Mayor Pascal Beaudet, who was elected as representative of the Communist Party of France, to protest against the decision to honor Barghouti, which the city described in a statement as part of its commitment to support what it described as political prisoners, including Barghouti and the late president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela.

“Nelson Mandela, whom you have the audacity of referencing, was indeed a political activist sentenced to prison, but for his opinions – not his actions,” CRIF President Roger Cukierman wrote.

In September, another communist mayor of a municipality near Paris also honored Barghouti, by naming a street after him. Valenton Mayor Françoise Baud also named a square after Mandela on the same day.

The National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, is currently in a legal fight with Valenton over the dedication of Barghouti Alley, which BNVCA says constitutes incitement to violence at a time when the prevalence of anti-Semitic crimes is increasing.