France / 08-07-2012
French Interior Minister warns of a ‘new antisemitism’ from youths in the suburbs
The French Interior Minister keen to identify Wednesday night’s attack as a hate crime, speaking of a worrying “new antisemitism” in an interview with (French Jewish station) Radio J on Sunday. “There is antisemitism that exists in our neighbourhoods, in our suburbs,” declared Manuel Valls.
“There are in our neighbourhoods, youths, or younger persons, who in the name of a collective identity they feel is under attack, decide on the most ignorant course, the most dangerous to our values, to perpetuate attacks on Jews. They consider Jews to be the enemy,” he added.
Further expanding on the idea, he said that “for many years, we have seen a new antisemitism perpetuated by youths”, adding that this form of bigotry could no longer be equated to “events that occur elsewhere in the world, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”.
When asked directly whether this antisemitism was perpetuated by youths claiming to be Muslim, he replied “I’m afraid (it might be) so”, calling on people “to be moderate in expressing it”, adding it was not his intention to stigmatise other French citizens, or to throw “suspicion (on) our citizens, notably those of Islamist persuasion”.
Additional facts of Wednesday night’s attack emerged as it was confirmed that the victim, identified only as Lior, was returning home to his parents in a suburb of Lyon having sat his French public exams. In lodging a complaint about the incident, he related to the authorities that he was insulted by the accused as he phoned his brother, who has a known Jewish name. On the train platform he was then hit by another youth who was then joined by his previous assailant. He alleged only one of the attackers made reference to his religion during the course of the violence.
“Today, (people) don’t think twice about insulting or hitting a fellow citizen because he is identifiably Jewish in his appearance”, Valls added, in his interview with Jewish radio. Recommending prudence to avoid adding to the “Merah effect”, referring to a spate of anti-Semitic attacks in France that sprung up following the massacre of three Jewish children and one of their fathers outside the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse in March by al-Qaeda sympathiser Mohamed Merah, which he described as “an outbreak of unacceptable antisemitic acts”.
“But unfortunately, there is no doubt that for impressionable youths who profess such hatred, this act (the Toulouse school shootings) served to liberate their emotions”, Valls concluded.