French Jews ask Sarkozy to help curb attacks

Fri Jan 30, 2009 5:16pm GMT

PARIS Jan 30 (Reuters) - An umbrella group of Jewish groups sought assurances on Friday from French President Nicolas Sarkozy that authorities would do more to stem a rise in anti-Jewish crime due to the war in the Gaza strip.

Some 100 acts targeting Jews were reported in France since Israel launched its offensive against Gaza's Hamas Islamist rulers in late December, said the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France,

"We expressed our worries to the president," Richard Prasquier, who heads the body, told reporters.

"The president assured us of the attention he was giving to these acts. He told us that he would do more to find a solution to this problem."

The group said aggression against Jews had picked up markedly over the past month compared with 2007, when some 250 acts targeting Jews were recorded.

"These acts are the manifestation of very deeply engrained anti-Semitism in a portion of the population and particularly among the youth in our country," said Prasquier.

Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie recently met leaders of France's Jewish and Muslim communities and security chiefs to deliver a message that the Gaza conflict -- which ended in a shaky ceasefire -- should not lead to violent acts in France.

In recent years, flare-ups between Israel and the Palestinians have been followed by acts of violence against Jewish people or buildings in France, home to Europe's largest Jewish and Muslim communities.

Earlier this month, attackers launched two cars packed with petrol bombs at a synagogue in France's southwestern city of Toulouse, causing damage but no casualties. (Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry; Writing by Tamora Vidaillet; editing by Elizabeth Piper)