PARIS—The Jewish community of France is paying tribute to the memory of the four victims of the terrorist attack at the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket four years ago.
A ceremony will be held Wednesday evening at the supermarket on Porte de Vincennes in eastern Paris.
It was a Friday at 1 pm on January 9, 2015, on this eve of Shabbat, the last customers finished their shopping when a shooting broke out. The gunshots resonated throughout the neighborhood. A terrifying hostage-taking was underway inside the supermarket. Paris.
Armed with a submachine gun, an assult rife and two Tokarev pistols, Amedy Coulibaly, a terrorist who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, entered and attacked the people in the grocery store and murdered four Jewish hostages, and held fifteen other hostages during a siege. Police ended the siege by storming the store and killing Coulibaly.
Philippe Braham, 45, Yohan Cohen, 20, Yoav Hattab, 21, and François-Michel Saada, 64, were killed by the terrorist just because they were Jewish. The Hyper Cacher attack was one of the deadliest in the wave of terror and antisemitism that has confronted France’s Jewish community over the past two decades. It came after the the murder of Ilan Halimi in 2006 and the massacre at the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse in 2012 where four people, including three children, were killed by an islamist terrorist.
Last year, antisemitism was on the rise with 69 per cent more incidents reported in the first nine months compared to the same period in 2017, including the murder of e 85-year-old Mireille Knoll, a Holocaust survivor, d in her Paris flat. Since the Hyper Cacher attack, many French Jews left the country, mainly to Israel. According to Joel Mergui, one of the leaders of the Jewish community, the departures to Israel have changed French Jewry: “For decades community leaders managed ongoing growth and in the past few years we’ve been managing decline. The people who have left were among the most active in the community so their departure is significant — but we’ve been able to mitigate the crisis by getting other Jews involved. I call that internal aliyah.”
Francis Kalifat, president of Crif, the umbrella representative group of French Jewish institutions, said the rise of antisemitism proves the government plans to fight antisemitism are not working.
He said “sanctions must be toughened because today they’re too lenient to dissuade attackers from targeting Jews.”
A comprehenive survey among Jews in 12 EU countries, released by the European Commission last month, showed that anti-Semitism is getting worse and that Jews are increasingly worried about the risk of harassment.
Hundreds of Jews questioned by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) said they had experienced a physical, anti-Semitic attack in the past year, while 28% said they had been harassed.
France is identified as having the biggest problem with anti-Semitism. A startling 95% of French Jews see anti-Semitism as either a fairly or very big problem.
France has Europe’s biggest Jewish population of around half a million.