France holds Palestinian Mariam Abu Daqqa ahead of expulsion

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine member has been deemed a threat to public order

Mariam Abu Daqqa has been detained in Paris. AFP
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French authorities have arrested a Palestinian visiting on a speaking tour as the authorities prepare to deport her, according to French media.

Mariam Abu Daqqa, 72, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was detained after an expulsion order from the Interior Ministry, which said she represented a threat to public order amid the war between Israel and Gaza.

It comes in the wake of France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin ordering local authorities to ban all pro-Palestinian demonstrations amid a rise in anti-Semitic acts.

Ms Abu Daqqa is currently being held under house arrest in the town of Bouches-du-Rhône, near the southern city of Marseille, and will remain there for the next 45 days, according to reports.

The activist is required to stay indoors from 10am to 7am and to report to the police at 12.30pm each day.

“I don’t understand what’s happening to me. I have a valid visa,” she said.

“I am not a terrorist but a left-wing activist who only came to talk about the rights of women and Palestinians. I thought we were in a democracy here.”

The Interior Ministry told AFP the activist was “a member of the political bureau of the PFLP in Gaza” and its action was in response to the threat “to public order in the context of high tensions”.

The ministry said the expulsion order couldn’t be enforced immediately because there needed to be time to organise her departure from France.

Ms Abu Daqqa had obtained a 50-day visa from the French consulate in Jerusalem to travel to participate in various conferences on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

But several events where she was due to speak were recently banned by the French authorities including at the University of Lyon-II and in Martigues.

She has been refused access to France’s National Assembly on account of the PFLP being designated a terrorist organisation by the EU.

Ms Abu Daqqa was due to attend the screening of a documentary there next month.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said during a visit to Israel that 19 French citizens are known to have been killed and 13 others are missing after the Hamas attack on Israel.

A Jewish students’ union in France has plastered walls around Paris with posters bearing the faces of French citizens believed to be held hostage.

President Emmanuel Macron has ordered police to take a “special approach” to radicalised young people after a teacher was stabbed to death in an apparent extremist attack.

Mr Macron wants police to comb through their files on people who could be deported from France to make sure nobody is overlooked, an Elysee Palace adviser said.

Updated: October 17, 2023, 6:10 PM