(JTA) — A Paris suburb made Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian leader serving multiple life sentences in Israel for acts of terrorism, an honorary citizen. Barghouti was recognized by Aubervilliers on Dec. 22 — shortly before a French court ordered another Parisian suburb, Bezons, to nullify an honor conferred on Majdi Irhima al-Rimawi, a Palestinian who assassinated Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi more than a decade earlier.
CRIF, the umbrella of France’s Jewish communities, protested the Barghouti honor in a letter Dec. 24 to Aubervilliers Mayor Pascal Beaudet, a member of the Communist Party of France.
In a statement, the municipality described the honor to Barghouti, who belongs to a faction of Fatah, as part of its commitment to support what it described as political prisoners. The statement named Barghouti and the late president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela.
“Nelson Mandela, whom you have the audacity of referencing, was indeed a political activist sentenced to prison, but for his opinions – not his actions,” CRIF President Roger Cukierman wrote.
In September, another Communist mayor of a municipality near Paris also honored Barghouti by naming a street for him. Valenton Mayor Françoise Baud also named a square after Mandela on the same day.
The National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, is in a legal fight with Valenton over the dedication of Barghouti Alley, which BNVCA says constitutes incitement to violence at a time when the prevalence of anti-Semitic crimes is increasing.