Saturday, January 31, 2004

France to curb anti-Jewish Arab TV broadcasts 

By Reuters

PARIS - France will soon pass a law to curb anti-Semitic television broadcasts coming from the Middle East and fine satellite operators who distribute anti-Jewish programs, Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said on Saturday.

Raffarin told the annual dinner of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF) that he and several cabinet ministers had seen some of these broadcasts and found them "unbearable to watch (and) revolting."

This followed an appeal by CRIF President Roger Cukierman to block anti-Semitic broadcasts from the Middle East, which officials here say encourage Muslim youths in France to attack Jews to take revenge for Israeli policy against the Palestinians.

"I believe deeply that our struggle against hate must take on a new dimension," Raffarin said as he announced the government would submit a bill to parliament to enable French judges to stop a satellite station that broadcasts anti-Semitic material.

He said the law would force satellite operators to inform Paris which stations they carried and threaten them with fines if they transmitted provocative broadcasts.

Satellite television is widely watched in the poor suburbs around French cities where most recent anti-Semitic attacks have occurred.

Cukierman said: "We see that messages of anti-Jewish hate are invading the air waves. Day after day, they reach households in our cities and suburbs thanks to satellite dishes."

He said satellite television broadcasters had beamed into France Egyptian and Syrian programs based on the 19th-century Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a notorious forgery purporting to show Jewish plots to dominate the world.

"The Al Manar station, which belongs to Hezbollah, broadcasts from Lebanon unbearable scenes ... one sees actors disguised as Jews who slit the throat of a non-Jewish child and collect in a saucer blood supposedly meant for their unleavened bread," he said.

Cukierman said France's 600,000 Jews were living "a period of malaise" and asked what their future would be.

"The anti-Jewish climate is spreading at schools and universities, across the whole country. Even small Jewish children have become victims."

He indirectly supported the government's plan to ban religious symbols from state schools, including the Jewish skullcap, to ensure that schools remained oases of neutrality where religious activists could not press their views on others.

He also urged the government to ban the Party of French Muslims, an openly anti-Zionist group whose leader Mohamed Latreche is now being investigated for a speech at a recent protest march that Jewish leaders denounced as anti-Semitic.

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