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France's anti-Semitic worries

December 4, 2014

French President Francois Hollande has denounced a horrific assault on a young Paris couple, believed targeted because the man was Jewish. The attack has raised concerns about a rise of anti-Semitism in France.

Paris Creteil Antisemitischer Überfall
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

French President Francois Hollande on Thursday condemned a brutal attack on a young couple earlier this week as "evil" and "unbearable."

Assailants forced their way into the couple's apartment in the Paris suburb of Creteil on Monday, tying up the young man, 21, and woman, 19, inside. They demanded money and raped the woman.

The male victim, has told the media that the assault was not random, as the attackers "apparently thought that given my family is Jewish, Jews have money."

His lawyer said it would have been common knowledge in the neighborhood that the young man's family was Jewish, given his father wore a Jewish skull cap.

Both France's Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve have labeled the attack as "anti-Semitic."

Hollande followed up with comments of his own, saying on Thursday the assault showed "evil sweeps through our societies."

"A family in a city in France was attacked because it is Jewish," Hollande said at the Elysee Palace. "When such dramas occur, such tragedies, it is not simply the family that is wounded, attacked. It is the greatness of France that finds itself wounded, damaged."

Two of the alleged assailants were arrested and given preliminary charges of relious-motivated violence, armed robbery, rape, sequestration and extortion. A suspected accomplice has also been arrested.

A lawyer for one of the suspects says the Interior Ministry has reacted prematurely to the case.

The attack is causing concern in France about simmering anti-Semitic sentiment and the growing political weight of the far right. Home to between 500,000 and 600,000 Jews, France has Western Europe's largest Jewish community.

Roger Cukierman of France's leading Jewish organization, CRIF, told the Associated Press that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in France have grown 91percent this year compared to last year.

France saw violent protests in July over the Gaza conflict, with Jewish businesses looted and groups attacking a synagogue in the Paris suburb of Saracelles, which has a large Jewish population.

jr/sms (AP, AFP)

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