“A first victory,” said Azzedine Taibi, mayor of the French city of Stains, following his appearance at the Administrative Court of Montreuil on Tuesday, 14 June.
The criminal complaint of the BNCVA, a French organization that labels itself in opposition to anti-Semitism, but in practice focuses on attempting to silence criticism of Israel, support for the Palestinian struggle, and the BDS campaign, accusing Taibi of “public apology for a terrorist act,” was dismissed by the court.
“The defamatory, misleading and destabilizing strategy of the BNCVA and the right-wing municipal opposition has once again failed,” Taibi – who represents the Communist Party of France – wrote on Facebook.
On the central matter, the posting of a large banner of Palestinian leader and political prisoner Marwan Barghouthi on the Stains city hall, Taibi is being pursued by the prefect, the representative of the French central government. The prefect seeks to force its removal, and the majority of the hearing was dedicated to its arguments against the banner’s posting in Stains.
A decision in the case will be issued in July, said Taibi, who said he was confident and that a negative ruling would be “extremely shocking and a very bad sign for democracy.” Taibi is represented by legendary French lawyer Roland Weyl.
“One thing is certain: our determination to support the rights of the Palestinian people and not to be intimidated by government threats remains complete,” said activist group CAPJPO-EuroPalestine. Approximately 100 protesters supported Taibi outside the court, in defense of his freedom of expression and against the current attempts to criminalize BDS in France, including the prosecution of 4 activists in Toulouse, France – who will go to court on 30 June – for distributing leaflets in a public square calling for the boycott of Israeli goods.
While Taibi is fighting in French court for his right to display a banner of Marwan Barghouthi, 16 French mayors in a delegation to Palestine were prohibited from visiting Barghouthi in Gilboa prison yesterday, 14 June. The mayors – along with Taibi – are part of a group of 23 French municipalities that have granted Barghouthi honorary citizenship. The mayors’ delegation is also meeting with Barghouthi’s wife, Palestinian lawyer Fadwa Barghouthi, and officials and prisoner support organizations.