FRENCH authorities have told Israelis not to fly their country’s flag in the streets of Strasbourg due to concerns about security and public order.
The order comes after authorities reversed a decision to ban Israeli flags from being flown inside a stadium at Thursday’s UEFA Europa League match between Maccabi Haifa and Strasbourg.
Earlier in the day, Strasbourg’s county governor enraged Israeli soccer fans, not to mention the country’s Culture and Sport Ministry and its Foreign Affairs Ministry, when he limited the number of Israeli fans allowed to enter the Stade de la Meinau. The governor had said local police were concerned about ensuring public safety at the soccer match.
However, a little over an hour before the 7:45 p.m. kickoff, the French policing authority – known as the Prefecture – rescinded the decision, but made it clear that Israeli flags were only allowed inside the stadium and not in the streets or in public squares outside.
Following the initial flag banning decision earlier in the day, Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev called the decision “unbelievable” and said it’s “unthinkable that a supporter of an Israeli team will walk around in fear in a French sports stadium and banned from carrying his team’s banner or national flag.”
The Foreign Ministry said that from conversations the embassy in Paris had with the authorities in Strasbourg, it was made clear that the directives against flag waving by supporters of both teams in the streets of the city were due to considerations over “security” and “public order,” and that the restrictions are only in effect outside the stadium, not inside it.
Israel’s ambassador in Paris, Aliza Bin Noun, said in her conversations with authorities in Strasbourg that the flag “should symbolise brotherhood and freedom between the two teams – two values of the French Republic that were being currently denied to the supporters of Maccabi Haifa.”
Strasbourg won the match 3-1.