A new street in the Berthe neighborhood of La Seyne-sur-Mer, a coastal city in the south of France, will be named after Yasser Arafat, according to French newspaper Var-Matin. The announcement was validated by the members of the city council on Tuesday.
The only other such case in France is in Bobigny, a suburb of Paris, which has a Yasser Arafat-Rabin Square. In 2013 the socialist mayor of Belfort, a city in eastern France, drew up plans to name a square for Yasser Arafat. But this plan was quashed by the Jewish community there, who vehemently opposed it.
Only a few voices of opposition were raised during the deliberations regarding the street naming. Some said that Arafat was a "controversial figure" while others labeled him a "terrorist". But in the end a very large majority voted in favor of naming the street for Yasser Arafat.
The socialist mayor of La Seyne-sur-Mer, Marc Vuillemont, explained that it was the elected officials of the city who made the decision in a democratic process. He also said that he was hard-pressed to understand the controversy, since there is already a Yitzhak Rabin Street in the city, and Yasser Arafat, after all, won the Nobel Prize together with Rabin. He joked that he hadn't gone out to measure both streets to see which of the two was longer.
In 2013, an uproar arose when the Communist mayor of Bezons, a suburb of Paris, decided to name Majdi Ihrima Al-Rimawi an honarary citizen. Al-Rimawi, is the Palestinian whom an Israeli court condemned to life in prison and an additonal 80 years, due to his implication in the assasination of former Minister of Tourism Rechavam Ze'evi in 2001