Anxious worshipers attending Shabbat services at the Great Synagogue in the French city of Strasbourg were regaled with antisemitic insults and slogans this weekend, during a angry demonstration mounted by the “yellow vest” social protest movement.
“We saw one protester urinating against the wall of the synagogue,” recounted Maurice Dahan, the president of the Jewish Consistoire of the Lower Rhine region of Eastern France.
“This cannot be tolerated from the yellow vests, and it cannot be tolerated in France,” Dahan stated, in an interview with French broadcaster BFM on Sunday.
About 1,300 demonstrators clashed with police outside the European Parliament building in Strasbourg as well as in the city center during Saturday’s protests. Eight officers were injured and 19 arrests were made as masked protesters lobbed projectiles at police.
When the protesters marched past the synagogue along the route of the demonstration, some activists were spotted shouting insults and making abusive gestures at Jewish worshipers entering the building, reported online French news outlet Le Monde Juif.
Several other participants in the demonstration condemned the behavior of this group, the report added.
A statement from the Consistoire on Saturday evening noted with “great emotion the violent antisemitic remarks made in front of the Synagogue and against Jewish citizens celebrating the Shabbat, a weekly festival of rest and peace.”
The statement continued: “French law allows everyone to demonstrate freely, but it must condemn firmly and with a strong arm the antisemitic insults against the Republic of freedom, equality and brotherhood.”
The antisemitic invective at Saturday’s demonstration was also condemned by regional prefect Jean-Luc Marx and Strasbourg Mayor Roland Ries.
#ActeXII à #Strasbourg : une journée émaillée d’incidents.
Jean-Luc Marx condamne avec la plus grande fermeté les violences commises et les propos racistes et antisémites tenus lors de la manifestation. pic.twitter.com/AteBbbXqu7
— Préfet de la région Grand-Est et du Bas-Rhin (@Prefet67) February 2, 2019
Launched last year to protest against a since-abandoned government fuel tax, the “yellow vest” movement — named after the reflective jackets worn by its supporters — has been infiltrated in recent months by extremists from both ends of the political spectrum pushing antisemitic conspiracy theories.
Among the incidents of note was an encounter in December involving a Jewish woman who was mocked with Holocaust denial by three “yellow vest” protesters traveling on the Paris Metro, after she complained about their antisemitic chants and gestures.