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French police ban pro-Palestinian rally

French police have banned a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Paris on Saturday after protesters last weekend tried to storm two synagogues in the capital during a similar rally.

PARIS: French police have banned a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Paris on Saturday after protesters last weekend tried to storm two synagogues in the capital during a similar rally.

Police said in a statement Friday they could not guarantee a safe march "due to heightened tensions" fuelled by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

President Francois Hollande, during a visit to Niger on Friday, said the march would have been a "risk to public order".

"We cannot allow the conflict to be imported into France. We cannot have demonstrators (from opposite sides) facing each other down, with a risk to public order," he said.

The organisers of the march, meanwhile, said they were taking legal action to overturn the ban but that it would be defied regardless of the outcome.

"The escalation in Gaza has caused a lot of anger and it will express itself," said Alain Pojolat of the New Anti-Capitalist Party, an extreme left group and one of the organisers of the rally.

"Whether the demonstration is authorised or not, there will be hundreds or even thousands of youths who will converge on Barbes on Saturday," he said, referring to the district where the rally was due to begin.

Last Sunday, several thousand people demonstrated in Paris against the Israeli assault on Hamas, with violence breaking out at the end of the march. A small group also tried to break into two synagogues.

Several pro-Palestinian demonstrations were held Wednesday in major French cities but passed off without any incident and amid tightened security.

The Israeli offensive has stoked passions in France -- which has the largest Muslim population in western Europe as well as a 500,000-strong Jewish community.

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