French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy meeting with the families of young Jews assaulted over the weekend in Sarcelles, a Paris suburb.
Photo: AFP Copyright 2006
A French Jewish politician has said that anti-Semitism “is on the rise in France,” after meeting interior minister Sunday night to discuss three attacks over the weekend against young Jews in Sarcelles, a northern suburb of Paris with a large Jewish population.
“Anti-Semitism is rising in our country. It would be wrong to deny it,” Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a Socialist MP from Sarcelles and former minister, told the press.
“I think that it is purely accidental that three assaults occurred successively in Sarcelles. As far as we know today, there is no link between these acts. But it is true that there is a climate in which anti-Semitism is on the rise,” Strauss-Kahn said.
He attended a meeting called by Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy with the three young Jewish men and their families, Jewish community leaders and other elected representatives of Sarcelles.
Two of the French Jews, aged 17 and 18, were attacked by a gang of black and Arab youths late Friday. One of the victims, Eliyahu Brami, 17, son of the Rabbi of the Garges-les-gonesse synagogue, about 1,5 kilometres away from the synagogue of Sarcelles, had his nose broken while the other, Yacob Boccara, was the target of anti-Semitic insults and threats.
Yacob Boccara, one of the three young Jewish men who were singled out for assaults by youths in Sarcelles.
AFP Copyright 2006
On Saturday night, a 28-year-old French Jewish man, wearing a kippa (skullcap) was also beaten in the same suburb by four youths who made anti-Semitic remarks.
The man was brought to hospital and suffered a dislocated shoulder. The four people have been arrested shortly after the attack and placed in close watch at the local police station.
Police were investigating if the four persons were involved in the other anti-Semitic attacks.
Reinforced measures in Sarcelles
During the meeting, Minister Sarkozy called these attacks “unacceptable” and announced the reinforcement of means to protect and strengthen security around the Jewish community in Sarcelles which represents 20 percent of the total population.
He also urged a swift investigation into the two attacks. "The minister gave firm instructions to identify the aggressors as soon as possible and bring them to justice," the interior ministry said.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn welcomed the new measures calling them “very necessary in the current climate.”
They include video supervision in the areas around synagogues and the deployment of 28 policemen, especially during religious services.
A link with Fofana’s arrest ?
The chairman of the Jewish community in this region said he doesn’t understand this rise in anti-Semitic acts. “We were not accustomed to this,” Moshe Cohen-Sabban, said.
“There is nothing in the area that can explain this kind of reaction,” he said.
The synagogue of Sarcelles, near Paris
Photo: Shirli Sitbon
“This can only come from outside,” he added, expressing the assumption of a link with the shocking murder last month of 23-year-old Ilan Halimi, who was kidnapped in January and tortured for three weeks by a gang seeking to extort money from his family.
“Do people want to take revenge for the arrest of Youssouf Fofana, the gang leader, on the Jewish community?” asked Cohen-Sabban. “This is possible,” he added.
Youssef Fofana, a 25-year-old Frenchman of Ivory Coast background, who was extradited to France on Saturday, allegedly confessed to participating in the abduction of Ilan Halimi, whom he said was chosen because it was believed Jews were wealthy enough to pay a hefty ransom.
The latest incidents have added to a sense of insecurity among Paris Jews.