French and European Jewish groups have condemned antisemitic chanting heard during a Paris demonstration against the death of a black man in police custody.
Chants of “dirty Jews” were voiced by some protesters at Place de la République on Saturday as thousands called for justice for Adama Traore, who died in 2016.
Paris police are investigating the chants which were heard after counter-protesters unfurled a banner reading: “Justice for victims of anti-white crimes.”
European Jewish Congress president Moshe Kantor said: “People who claim to march against hate and racism while shouting violent antisemitic statements are hypocrites acting against the worthy cause of the majority and trying to hijack and piggyback on the justifiable anger and hurt of anti-racist demonstrators.”
Likewise Francis Kalifat, president of French Jewish umbrella group CRIF, said the antisemitic chants were “an insult to the Republic but also to the cause that the demonstrators claim to promote”.
In recent days, as demonstrations and marches have taken place across the world in protest against racism and police brutality following the killing of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis by a white police officer, Jewish leaders have said that “small minorities” are using it as an excuse to target Jews and Jewish institutions.
“As people with a history of oppression and discrimination, the Jewish people stand shoulder to shoulder with the black community,” Kantor said. “There can be no distractions from this central point.”
Among those protesting on Saturday was Jean-Luc Melenchon, a socialist politician accused of antisemitism by CRIF. Melenchon told the French media he did not hear the chants about Jews.