PARIS (Jun. 26)
Marseilles Mayor Gaston Deferre last night denounced the recent increase of neo-Nazi activities. Deferre, who is a prominent Socialist Party leader and a former French Presidential candidate, said that in the city of Marseilles itself “anti-Semitic slogans are painted on walls, Jewish institutions desecrated and people in Nazi uniforms appear in public.”
He explained that it was in view of these facts that he signed a municipal decree last month banning Nazi insignia and Nazi uniforms from the city’s streets. The decree, unpublicized until now, ordered city police to arrest, detain and prosecute all those breaking the ban. City officials said this morning that as far as they know no arrests have been made but the decree itself seems to have had a deterrent effect on neo-Nazi elements. Deferre said on a television program that he is determined to maintain the city’s peace and ensure the harmonious coexistence of its various communities.
Marseilles, with a population of nearly one million, has one of France’s largest Jewish and Arab communities. An important port, it is also the traditional home of various outlaw and extremist elements. Deferre himself has regularly been re-elected for the last 20 years on a Socialist ticket with a large Jewish vote.
Reports from Marseilles say that the recent anti-Semitic incidents have not been more frequent or more serious than similar acts in the past. Jewish sources nonetheless expressed pleasure at the Mayor’s action which they say “helps to put out the fire before it actually breaks out.” More serious, according to these sources, is the extreme right-wing demonstration due to take place tomorrow night in Paris. Representatives of right-wing organizations from a dozen West European countries are due to meet to try and work out a joint European organization. Several liberal organizations have formally protested and a number of unspecified Jewish and non-Jewish groups plan to stage a counter-demonstration in front of the hall where the 600 right-wingers will meet.