French minister condemns brutal 'anti-Semitic' attack on couple
France's interior minister on Wednesday condemned an "anti-Semitic" attack on a young couple that saw armed assailants storm into their apartment, rape the woman and steal jewelry and bank cards.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in a statement that the "anti-Semitic nature (of the attack) seems proven," adding that the assailants "started with the idea that being Jewish means having money."
The attack happened around lunchtime on Monday, when a 21-year-old man and his 19-year-old girlfriend were in an apartment in Creteil just outside Paris.
According to the family's lawyer, the attackers said "you Jews, you have money" when entering while wearing masks and gloves. The father of the family wears the Jewish yarmulke cap and those in the neighbourhood would have known they were Jewish, said lawyer Severine Benayoun.
The suspects were armed with an automatic pistol and a sawed-off shotgun. They tied up the victims, raped the young woman and fled an hour later after stealing jewelry, bank cards and mobile phones, a source familiar with the case said.
Two suspects accused of participating in the violence were charged on Wednesday with gang rape, armed robbery, kidnapping and extortion followed by violence due to religious affiliation, prosecutors said.
The third suspect in the attack remains at large. A fourth suspect has been arrested as an alleged accomplice in the robbery.
The accused are also suspected of having beaten a Jewish man in his 70s in November.
A lawyer for one of the suspects said the interior ministry had reacted prematurely and condemned the "media frenzy" surrounding the case.
Anti-Semitic attacks nearly doubled in France in the first seven months of the year, the country's main Jewish group said in September.
A total of 529 anti-Semitic actions or threats were registered up to the end of July, against 276 for the same period last year, the Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF) said, citing figures from the interior ministry.
France includes some 500,000-600,000 Jews, the third largest Jewish population in the world, after Israel and the United States.
In addition to the largest Jewish diaspora in Europe, France is also home to the continent's biggest Muslim community, which is estimated at around five million.
Tensions over the recent Gaza conflict spilled out into the streets of France in July with looters destroying Jewish businesses and shouting anti-Israel obscenities in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles -- sometimes known as "Little Jerusalem" for its large community of Sephardic Jews.
And in 2006, the kidnapping, torture and murder of a young Jewish man by a gang called the "Barbarians" shocked the country.
© 2014 AFP