By Layli Foroudi
PARIS (Reuters) -France's highest administrative court stated on Wednesday that pro-Palestinian protests must be banned on a case-by-case basis, while upholding the validity of an instruction from the French interior minister banning all pro-Palestinian protests.
In a note sent to regional police authorities, dated Oct. 12, the interior minister had ordered that "pro-Palestinian protests, because they are likely to generate disturbances to public order, must be banned".
The appeal on the blanket ban instruction was brought by the organisation Comite Action Palestine, arguing that a total and absolute ban is not justified and encroaches on freedom of expression and assembly.
The Conseil d'Etat upheld the validity of the note but said that local authorities could not ban a protest based solely on the note or the fact that a protest is in support of Palestinians.
The Conseil d'Etat said in its decision that while the judges regret the approximative wording of the minister's note, it's intention was to instruct authorities to "ban all protests that support the Palestinian cause, that publicly justify or valorise, directly or indirectly, terrorist acts like those committed in Israel on October 7 by Hamas members."
It added that given the tensions and rise in antisemitism in France, protests that "support Hamas (...) are of a nature to provoke disturbances to public order."
Vincent Brengarth, lawyer for Comite Action Palestine, said "it is a victory because it has swept away the systematic ban, now we will need to challenge bans on a case-by-case basis when they come."
On Wednesday a few hours before the ruling, the police authorities of Marseille said two pro-Palestinian protests were to be banned for "risks to public order in the current context."
(Reporting by Layli Foroudi; editing by Jonathan Oatis)