Jewish man held for attack on Paris Jewish centre

30th August 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 30 (AFP) - French police on Monday arrested a Jewish man in connection with what was originally assumed to be an anti-Semitic arson attack on a Jewish social centre in Paris a week ago, with revenge a possible motive.

PARIS, Aug 30 (AFP) - French police on Monday arrested a Jewish man in connection with what was originally assumed to be an anti-Semitic arson attack on a Jewish social centre in Paris a week ago, with revenge a possible motive.  

The arrest marked a sharp turnaround in the investigation of the fire, an incident that led the French government to declare war on racism and prompted a snap visit to Paris by Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom.  

Police headquarters refused to identify the man taken into custody in connection with the August 22 attack, but investigators said the man had worked on occasion as a guard at the centre, and that management wanted to fire him.  

Investigators suggested that "resentment" over the potential loss of his job could have motivated the suspect, in his 50s, to torch the eastern Paris centre out of revenge, but that explanation was not immediately confirmed.  

The man - who was placed in preventive detention for up to 48 hours - was "more or less homeless" and "mentally unstable", the sources said.  

On August 22, the Jewish centre was gutted in a massive blaze, and swastikas and anti-Jewish slogans like "The world would be pure if there were no more Jews" were scrawled inside.  

Police said the fire could have been an "inside job", but were still looking into several theories.  

Investigators discovered that while the front door of the centre was locked, the back service entrance was open at the time of the fire.  

The incident sparked condemnation across France, which is home to Europe's largest Jewish community at an estimated 600,000 strong, and had put the government's ongoing struggle to stamp out anti-Semitism back in the spotlight.  

Justice ministry figures released last week showed that 298 anti-Semitic acts had been reported to court authorities between January 1 and August 20, most of which remain unsolved.  

Also last week, French Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin said that 160 violent anti-Semitic acts had been committed in the first seven months of the year, as compared with 75 such acts during the same period last year.  

De Villepin explained to Le Monde that while 11 of those 160 acts could be attributed to far-right activists and 50 of them to "individuals of Arab-Muslim descent", 99 of them had been committed for "reasons that remain unclear".  

In July, a 23-year-old woman who claimed she had been the victim of a vicious anti-Semitic assault later admitted she had made up the entire incident, and was given a four-month suspended sentence for lying about it.

 

© AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article