Tuesday 22 January 2019

French take up fight against anti-Semitism

Actor Gerard Depardieu is one of the mainfesto’s signatories. Photo: Getty Images
Actor Gerard Depardieu is one of the mainfesto’s signatories. Photo: Getty Images

Rachel Alexander in Paris

More than 300 French dignitaries and stars, including former president Nicolas Sarkozy, have signed a manifesto denouncing a "new anti-Semitism" marked by "Islamist radicalisation" after a series of murders of Jews.

The country's half-million-plus Jewish community is the largest in Europe but has been hit by a wave of emigration to Israel in the past two decades, partly due to the emergence of virulent anti-Semitism in predominantly immigrant neighbourhoods.

"We demand that the fight against this democratic failure that is anti-Semitism becomes a national cause before it's too late. Before France is no longer France," reads the manifesto co-signed by politicians from the left and right and including celebrities like actor Gerard Depardieu.

The signatories of the manifesto, published in the 'Le Figaro' newspaper, condemned a "quiet ethnic purging" driven by rising Islamist radicalism. They also accused the media of remaining silent.

"In our recent history, 11 Jews have been assassinated - and some tortured - by radical Islamists because they were Jewish," the declaration said.

The murders reach as far back as 2006 and include the 2012 shooting of three schoolchildren and a teacher at a Jewish school by Islamist gunman Mohammed Merah in Toulouse.

Three years later, an associate of the two brothers who massacred a group of cartoonists at satirical magazine 'Charlie Hebdo' killed four people in a hostage-taking at a Jewish supermarket in Paris.

In April 2017, an Orthodox Jewish woman in her 60s was thrown out of the window of her Paris flat by a neighbour shouting "Allahu Akhbar" (God is greatest).

The latest attack took place last month when two perpetrators stabbed an 85-year-old Jewish woman 11 times before setting her body on fire, in a crime treated as anti-Semitic.

Her brutal death sent shockwaves through France and prompted 30,000 people to join a march in her memory.

Condemning the "dreadful" killing, President Emmanuel Macron had reiterated his determination to fighting anti-Semitism.

Yesterday's manifesto said: "French Jews are 25 times more at risk of being attacked than their fellow Muslim citizens."

Irish Independent

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