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PALESTINE

Kalashnikov photo stunt concerns French cops

An investigation was opened at the weekend after a photos emerged of a man, dressed in army gear symbolically pointing a Kalashnikov rifle at children during a pro-Palestinian demo in Paris.

Kalashnikov photo stunt concerns French cops
A man pulls out a fake Kalashnikov during a pro-Gaza demo in Paris at the weekend. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

The stunt saw children lie on the ground while a man dressed as a soldier walked around them pointing a Kalashnikov at them.

The act symbolised the death of Palestinian children at the hands of the Israeli military during the recent armed intervention and was carried out during a Pro-Gaza march in Paris on Saturday.

Authorities were concerned bythe images and launched an immediate probe to find out whether the rifle was real or fake.

On Sunday France Info radio revealed that the weapon was indeed fake after speaking to the man, who was dressed as the soldier.

The protester, named Mohamed, said the rifle was a toy gun and the act was set up “to show what is really happening in Palestine”.

The latest pro-Palestinian march in the French capital saw up to 8,000 protesters take to the streets to condemn Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.

It is the latest in a series of similar rallies that have taken place in the capital, some of which have ended in violence.

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PARIS

Demonstrators gather in Paris to decry French bill on curbing police images

Several thousand people marched in French cities Saturday to protest a draft law that would place limits on the filming of on-duty police officers, a move condemned as a curb on press freedom.

Demonstrators gather in Paris to decry French bill on curbing police images
Protesters in central Paris march against the bill. Photo: AFP

The biggest gathering was near the Eiffel Tower in Paris and was closely watched by a large deployment of police.

In addition to representatives of the media, others included members of the “Yellow Vest” and “Extinction Rebellion” movements, along with individuals waving flags of the communist and green parties, and the FO trade union.

A banner deployed by the news agency Mediapart declared that “Democracy dies in obscurity”.

Late Friday, parliament approved an amended “comprehensive security” law which would criminalise the publication of images of on duty police officers with the intent of harming their “physical or psychological integrity”.

In practice, the law would restrict the publication of photos or videos taken of police officers' faces while in action.

In many cases an officer's face would have to be blurred.

Journalist unions say it could give police a green light to prevent them from doing their work and potentially documenting abuses by security forces.

An amendment clarifies that press freedom should in no way be hindered by the proposed measures.

French media are also concerned about potential rights abuse via the use of drones to watch demonstrations and facial recognition programmes linked to surveillance cameras.

French police have been taken to task in recent years for alleged brutality meted out to protesters and criminal suspects, especially those from black, Arab or other minorities.

In the northern city of Lille, around 1,000 demonstrators turned out, one of whom carried an English-language sign that said “Orwell was right” in a reference to the dystopian novel “1984”.

Others marched in the Brittany city of Rennes and in Montpellier on the Mediterranean coast, where some chanted: “Put down your arms and we'll put down our telephones.”

Article 24 of the draft law foresees a one-year prison term and a 45,000-euro fine for spreading images that show officers faces or allow them to be identified when such images harm their “physical or psychological integrity”.

Social media campaigns that expose individual officers are targets of the proposed legislation.

Police say they risk great personal threat in the line of duty, and dozens have been injured in clashes with protesters in recent years.

An attack on a police station outside Paris last month by dozens of people armed with fireworks and steel bars spurred the government into taking measures.

 
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