PARIS - French prosecutors have opened an investigation Sunday into anti-Semitic comments made by Yellow Vest protesters against a renowned philosopher and intellectual a day earlier.
The Paris prosecutor's office said Sunday an investigation was launched into "public insult based on origin, ethnicity, nationality, race or religion," the Associated Press reported. A video broadcast on multiple French news channels shows peple hurling insults such as "dirty Zionists" and "France is ours" at Alain Finkielkraut.
Finkielkraut, 69, told French media that he had approached the protesters, who have held demonstrations in Paris for 14 consecutive Saturdays, out of curiosity. Finkielkraut had initially supported the movement, but called the protests "grotesque" after Saturday's incident.
French president Emmanuel Macron was among a wide range of politicians who denounced the comments.
"The anti-Semitic insults he has been subjected to are the absolute negation of who we are and what makes us a great nation. We will not tolerate them," Macron said on Twitter.
Les injures antisémites dont il a fait l’objet sont la négation absolue de ce que nous sommes et de ce qui fait de nous une grande nation. Nous ne les tolèrerons pas.https://t.co/WSUTuJmQWX— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) February 16, 2019
The protesters gained their nickname from the fluorescent vests they wear while marching, which are safety vests French drivers are required to keep in their cars.
Protests around the country began November 17 against a planned fuel tax increase. The demonstrations have transformed into protests largely against Macron's liberal economic reform policies. Macron made tax and salary concessions in December, but protests have continued.
Saturday's insults came amid reports of a stark increase in anti-Jewish offenses, which police estimate are up 74 percent from last year.
Fourteen political parties, including Macron's ruling La Republique en Marche, have called for symbolic gatherings next Tuesday to rally against anti-Semitism.