French Citys Shock Choice for Honorary Citizenship

Majdi Rimawi was honored by a Paris suburb even though he’s a convicted terrorist (Screenshot from Palestinian Authority TV via PMW)

Considering its citizens were recently the victims of a terrorist attack, it’s surprising French officials are now honoring a terrorist.

Last month, the Paris suburb of Bezons decided to bestow a unique honor on Majdi Rimawi. This due to his being a “victim of the [Israeli] occupation.” What French officials did not mention was that Rimawi is a convicted assassin and a member of the terrorist group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He is presently serving a life sentence plus 80 years for the assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi. He was one of the four shooters waiting to ambush the minister outside his Jerusalem hotel room in 2001.

Israeli officials and Jewish groups are blasting the town’s decision. Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor says he’s “shocked.”

“The glorification of terrorists who deliberately murder innocent civilians is one of the greatest obstacles to peace in the Middle East. It must be condemned loudly and clearly,” Prosor wrote.

“This appalling act made me wonder: What’s next for the city of Bezons? Giving honorary citizenship to Anders Breivik [the Norwegian mass murderer]? Or Osama bin Laden?,” he added.

Palestinian Media Watch, a Jerusalem-based research institute that monitors Palestinian media, discovered that the city had granted the honorary citizenship to a terrorist after seeing the news item broadcast on Palestinian television. It then alerted journalists and officials about the honor.

Palestinian Authority television reported that the inscription on the plaque prepared by the municipality of Bezons referred to Al-Rimawi as a “political prisoner.”

PMW offered this English transcript of the Arabic report describing the honor:

PA TV host: “The French city of Bezons awarded honorary citizenship to the prisoner Majdi al-Rimawi from the village Bani Zeid Al-Gharbiyya. This title and award were given during an official ceremony held in France, to which the wife of the prisoner, Fathiya al-Rimawi, was invited… Prisoner Majdi al-Rimawi, of course, has been jailed in the occupation’s (i.e., Israeli) prisons for 11 years and is sentenced to life imprisonment plus 50 years (80 years, -Ed.)”

Terrorist Al-Rimawi’s wife: “This connection between the city of Bezons and the Municipality of Bani Zeid Al-Gharbiyya began in 2008… The matter of prisoners in our region caught the attention of [our] French brothers, and they decided to honor them by granting honorary citizenship to a prisoner from this area. Of course, all prisoners deserve all the good, all the honor and all the admiration, from the smallest of them to the greatest, from the most lenient sentence to the heaviest sentence. However, as part of the historical ties [between the municipalities], and since we in the [Bani Zeid] municipality started the relationship with the French brothers, prisoner Majdi Al-Rimawi was the one chosen to be recognized and granted this honorary award. For us, the family of the prisoner, this award is a great gesture from the French [people] and [shows their] support of the issue of Palestinian prisoners in general, and in particular the issue of prisoners sentenced to long prison terms.”

Palestinian Media Watch translators noted that the television report zoomed in to this text on the plaque: “In solidarity with the Palestinian people, on February 13, 2013, the city council promoted Majdi Irhima al-Rimawi (political prisoner) to the rank of honorary citizen of the city of Bezons.”

The Mayor of Bezons Dominique Lesparre posted the speech he gave at the ceremony on his blog in which he described the terrorist as a “victim.”

“Majdi is a direct victim of this occupation… As are the 4,500 Palestinian resistance [fighters] who were imprisoned for having dared to defend their country against an occupier whose military means are oversized and whose methods constantly violate UN resolutions and international law,” he said.

National Director for the Anti-Defamation League Abraham Foxman also condemned the town’s choice: “This award is an insult to the French concept of justice and liberty and a perversion of French values.”

“Al-Rimawi is a convicted terrorist and the PFLP is on the European Union’s list of terrorist organizations.  There can be no justification for honoring him,” he said.

Exactly one year ago in March 2012, three children and the father of two of the victims were killed in a terror attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse, France. Foxman wrote: “After Mohamed Merah murdered three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse, the French Jewish security agency noted a rise in anti-Semitic incidents, many of which included praise for Merah.”

“By honoring another high-profile murderer, the city council of Bezons is callously encouraging more violence against Jews and it is important for all sectors of French society to counter this message and condemn the award,” Foxman added.