Antisemitic acts have exploded in France since 7 October, interior minister says | France
France has recorded more than a thousand antisemitic acts since the deadly 7 October attack by Hamas gunmen on Israel, the interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, has said.
“The number of antisemitic acts has exploded,” he told France 2 television, adding that 486 people had been arrested for such offences, including 102 foreigners.
Hamas gunmen attacked Israel on 7 October, killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and taking about 240 hostages, Israeli authorities say.
Since then, Israel has attacked the Gaza Strip in its battle to destroy Hamas, levelling many buildings and areas and, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry, killing more than 9,700 people, mostly women and children.
France’s Jewish population, estimated at over 500,000, is the largest in Europe and the third-biggest in the world, after Israel and the US.
Paris police chief Laurent Nunez said on Sunday that there had been 257 antisemitic acts in the Paris region alone, and 90 arrests.
There was no typical profile for those arrested, he added. They ranged from “young kids who say very serious things” to people involved in the pro-Palestinian cause who had gone too far.
The Socialist party leader, Olivier Faure, called for all political forces to mobilise against antisemitism.
In comments to Radio J, he suggested a demonstration in the next few days at Place de la Republique, a regular site for rallies in central Paris.
But his initiative immediately came under fire from politicians on the left for his failure to rule out allowing the far-right National Rally of Marine Le Pen to take part.
Paris prosecutors are already investigating the daubing of dozens of Stars of David on buildings around the city and its suburbs last week. The Union of Jewish Students of France said they were designed to mirror the way Jews were forced to wear stars by the Nazi regime.
In the central city of Lyon, prosecutors said this weekend they suspected that antisemitism may have been behind an attack on a young Jewish woman, who was stabbed in her home.
Police were treating the attack as attempted murder, they said, adding that the woman’s life was not in danger and no arrest had been made.
And the mayor in the eastern city of Besancon on Sunday denounced what she said was a fresh wave of antisemitic graffiti, after a first set appeared on 31 October.
“We are witnessing an escalation of violence in the content of messages,” said Anne Vignot, noting that such behaviour could be prosecuted.
The developments in France came as the European Commission condemned the jump in antisemitism across the EU since the outbreak of conflict in the Middle East, saying “European Jews today are again living in fear”.
“The spike of antisemitic incidents across Europe has reached extraordinary levels in the last few days, reminiscent of some of the darkest times in history,” the commission said in a statement.
“We condemn these despicable acts in the strongest possible terms. They go against everything that Europe stands for.”
Citing antisemitic incidents in Austria, France, Germany and Spain, as well as “demonstrators chanting hate slogans against Jews”, the commission, which is the EU’s executive arm, said it was essential to push back against both antisemitism “as well as the rise in anti-Muslim hatred that we have been witnessing over the past weeks – which has no place in Europe”.