Anti-Semitic attacks jump in France

PARIS Mon Feb 26, 2007 7:41pm GMT

In this file photo a man draped an Israeli flag takes part in a march through Paris attended by thousands of people to protest against racism and anti-Semitism following the torture and killing of a young Jewish victim, February 26, 2006. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

In this file photo a man draped an Israeli flag takes part in a march through Paris attended by thousands of people to protest against racism and anti-Semitism following the torture and killing of a young Jewish victim, February 26, 2006.

Credit: Reuters/Regis Duvignau

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PARIS (Reuters) - The number of anti-Semitic incidents in France jumped sharply in 2006, lifted by attacks following the brutal murder of a young Jew at the start of the year and by the war in Lebanon, a Jewish group said on Monday.

CRIF, the representative council of Jewish institutions in France, said physical attacks on Jews rose 46 percent to 112 last year from 77 in 2005.

Anti-Semitic "actions", including both assaults and lesser attacks such as throwing objects or causing material damage, rose 40 percent to 213 from 152, while the number of threats rose by 7 percent to 158.

CRIF said the rise in attacks appeared to have been fuelled by the murder of Ilan Halimi, a 23-year-old Jewish man whose death at the hands of a group of kidnappers in February last year shocked France.

Halimi was found naked and tortured after three weeks in captivity and died shortly afterwards.

The leader of the kidnappers said they had wanted to extort a ransom and denied acting out of anti-Semitic motives, but the Interior Ministry branded it an anti-Semitic act and it was followed by a spate of attacks on Jews in Paris.

CRIF also said the war in Lebanon between Israeli forces and Hezbollah guerrillas during July and August of 2006 sparked a rise in attacks in France which continued into September and October.

"Anti-Semitic actions are carried out sometimes with real determination, sometimes simply because an opportunity presents itself," it said in a statement.

The statistics were collected from reports by the service for the protection of the Jewish community (SPCJ), which counts both attacks reported on a hotline and information supplied by the Interior Ministry.

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