Sunday, August 29, 2004

Attacks against French Jews increase... 

French official: Attacks on Jews tripled since start of year

By Amiram Barkat
Sun., August 29, 2004 Elul 12, 5764

The number of anti-Semitic incidents in France has soared by hundreds of percent since the beginning of the year and the law enforcement authorities are having difficulty coping with them.
Justice Minister Dominique Perben issued figures last Thursday showing a tripling of anti-Semitic attacks this year, with 298 so far, compared to 108 in all of 2003.
Perben's figures were broken down by their targets, showing there were 67 attacks on Jewish people, 162 on property and 69 cases of anti-Semitic writings.
Some 80 percent of this year's cases have not yet been solved, Perben said after meeting with France's Chief Rabbi Joseph Sitruk to discuss government efforts to fight anti-Semitism. French Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin said the number of violent incidents against Jews and Jewish property this year reached 160, marking a 113 percent rise compared to the equivalent period last year, in which only 75 incidents were reported. In an interview with Le Monde on Friday, de Villepin said the reasons for 80 percent of the incidents were unclear and the perpetrators have not been found. Only 11 attacks were committed by extreme right-wingers and 50 were committed by people of Arab or Muslim origin.

Israel and most Jewish organizations in France have been saying for some time that Moslem youngsters, especially of North African origin, are the main perpetrators of anti-Semitic attacks.

Last month Prime Minister Ariel Sharon evoked sharp comments in France when he hinted that the Islam in France is behind "the most extreme anti-Semitism."

De Villepin rejected the statement "that religion is the source of hatred and divisiveness in our country." He said the motives in 99 anti-Semitic incidents (more than 60 percent) are described as "vague" while 50 incidents are believed to have been carried out by "Arab-Moslem individuals." Another 11 incidents were carried out by radical right-wingers. In addition, de Villepin said "Islamophobic acts have multiplied dangerously" and noted that Christian, Jewish and Moslem cemeteries have been desecrated.

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