Majority of anti-Semitic acts in France unsolved

26th August 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 26 (AFP) - French authorities have recorded 298 anti-Semitic acts in the country so far this year, the great majority of which remain unsolved, Justice Minister Dominique Perben told Grand Rabbi Joseph Sitruk Thursday.

PARIS, Aug 26 (AFP) - French authorities have recorded 298 anti-Semitic acts in the country so far this year, the great majority of which remain unsolved, Justice Minister Dominique Perben told Grand Rabbi Joseph Sitruk Thursday.

Official figures show that of 298 acts recorded between January 1 and August 20, 162 took the form of damage to property, such as graffiti or arson, 69 were breaches of press law, in the shape of the publication of anti-Semitic images or remarks, and in 67 cases, physical or verbal attacks were involved.

In four out of every five cases, those responsible have not been found.

Some are still being investigated, while in other cases inquiries were dropped when it became clear there was little chance the guilty parties would be identified.

In only 59 cases were those responsible formally identified. In 13 no further action was taken while proceedings continued in the other 46.

After his meeting with Perben, Sitruk said he had been "reassured by the will of the (justice minister) to strengthen everything that can be."

"The real problem in France is rather a problem of society: there is a need to teach people how to live together and perhaps to make the fight against racism and anti-Semitism a national priority in the coming months," he said.

"France has always been a safe country for Jews and I hope it will remain so."

The government declared "war" on racism Monday, a day after arsonists torched a Jewish centre in Paris and scrawled swastikas inside.

The attack highlighted a four-year surge in anti-Jewish acts in France but Perben rejected an assertion by the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France that the government was "lax" on anti-Semitic offenders.

He said laws passed in 2003 and 2004 had toughened legislation against racism and anti-Semitism.

State prosecutors had standing orders to ask for severe penalties and systematically to appeal against sentences seen as too light.

Sitruk, the head rabbi for France, earlier said that his purpose in meeting Perben was to examine ways in which perpetrators of anti-Jewish acts could be handed sentences "that are truly dissuasive."

The issuing of figures was apparently a reaction to Sitruk's earlier statement that nobody had accurately judged the size of "this wave of aggression against the Jewish community."

© AFP

Subject: French news

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