French Jews say Lyon assault latest in series of anti-Semitic incidents

Jewish leaders call atmosphere unbearable, say attacks have picked up since Toulouse shootings in March

Jewish communal leaders in France say an attack on three Jewish men Saturday night was just the latest in a line of anti-Semitic incidents against the country’s Jews.

“There has been a series of acts like the one in in Villeurbanne,”  said Richard Prasquier, president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF), according to Le Figaro.


Protesters raising a banner reading "in France, we kill Blacks, Jews, and Arabs" during a silent demonstration in Paris in March. (Photo credit: Daniel Hoffman)Protesters raising a banner reading “in France, we kill Blacks, Jews, and Arabs” during a silent demonstration in Paris in March. – Photo: Daniel Hoffman


Police are still searching for the culprits behind the incident Saturday night near the southern city of Lyon, in which 10 attackers assaulted three 18-year-old Jewish men outside a Jewish center in Villeurbanne. Two of the victims were taken to the hospital after being beaten with a hammer and metal rod.

Police believe the attackers are of North African extraction.

Joël Mergui, president of the Central Consistory, an umbrella organization working to coordinate local Jewish communities, said the country’s Jews were under constant attack. “Not a week passes without anti-Semitic assaults in France. I refuse to believe Jews will be forced to choose between security and their Jewish identity.”

The chief rabbi of the Grand Synagogue in Lyon, Richard Wertenschlag, called the atmosphere “unbearable.”

“These incidents are becoming more and more frequent, so much so, alas, as to make one take them for granted,” he said.

In March, a rabbi, his two children, and an 8-year-old girl were killed outside a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, by Algerian-French terrorist Mohamed Merah. Following the attack, French authorities vowed to crack down on Muslim extremism and anti-Semitic incidents.

But CRIF Vice President Ariel Goldman told Le Figaro that incidents had in fact ramped up.

“In the month following the Merah terror attack we counted 140 such acts,” said Goldman. “This amounts to a third of the violent incidents we had in 2011.”


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