French court approves the deportation of Palestinian activist

We are supposed to die without expressing pain, the Palestinian activist says

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A French court has approved the deportation of Palestinian activist Mariam Abudaqa, who came to France for a speaking tour in September and was put under house arrest after the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas militants.

The ruling, which overturns a court decision last month that the interior minister appealed, said 72-year-old Abudaqa, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was “likely to seriously disturb public order.”

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The French government has cracked down on expressions of solidarity with Palestine in the wake of Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack which killed 1,400 people, banning protests, cancelling events and accusing some pro-Palestine groups of condoning terrorism.

More than 10,000 people have been killed in Gaza by Israel’s retaliatory assault on the enclave. Abudaqa said she had lost 30 members of her family since the beginning of the war.

“We are supposed to die without even saying ouch, without expressing pain,” said Abudaqa of her arrest and speaking ban on Tuesday before the court decision came.

The anti-occupation and women’s rights activist had been invited to speak at the French national assembly at an event on Thursday, but her participation was blocked in October by the Assembly president.

The Conseil d’Etat, France’s highest administrative court, based its ruling on Abudaqa’s membership of the PFLP, stating that she occupies a “leadership” position.

The PFLP is the second largest faction in the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), which is recognized by the UN and Israel, but is blacklisted by the EU and has carried out attacks on Israelis.

Pierre Stambul, activist with the Union of French Jews for Peace which supported Abudaqa’s challenge in court, said she hadn’t held a senior position in the group for more than twenty years.

The decision is a “continuation of the criminalization of the Palestinian population”, he said.

The interior minister’s office did not respond for comment.

The court ruling does not specify by what date Abudaqa must leave and where she must go. Abudaqa said she plans to fly to Egypt on Saturday and hopes the border crossing will open so that she can return to Gaza.

She said she had trouble sleeping as Israeli strikes on Gaza continue and has become scared of checking her phone, for fear of more bad news.

“Death is much easier than staying here, while my heart aches for them. Or having to receive news everyday of one of them dying,” she said.

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