Paris boosts securityfor Jewish holidays

14th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 13 (AFP) - French officials are reinforcing security in Paris this week for the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur after a recent worrying surge in anti-Semitic acts, the head of a Jewish body said Monday.

PARIS, Sept 13 (AFP) - French officials are reinforcing security in Paris this week for the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur after a recent worrying surge in anti-Semitic acts, the head of a Jewish body said Monday.  

"The state has put in place reinforced security procedures, to our satisfaction," said Moise Cohen, the president of the Paris Jewish Consistory.

He added that contacts had been made at "all levels", from police chiefs to the interior ministry.  

Rosh Hashanah, marking the Jewish New Year, starts late Wednesday and will continue to Friday.  

A week later, on September 24 and 25, much of France's Jewish population -- at an estimated 600,000, the biggest in Europe -- will observe Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, considered the most significant date in Judaism.  

"Everybody is getting ready for this period of spiritual gatherings against a background of worry," Cohen said, referring to a general increase of anti-Jewish acts over the past four years that has noticeably worsened this year.  

Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin said last month that 160 violent anti-Semitic acts had been reported in the first seven months of 2004, compared with 75 such acts during the same period last year.  

Many of the acts have been blamed on disaffected youths from France's estimated five-million strong Muslim population, although some have also been attributed to far-right extremists.  

Authorities, including President Jacques Chirac and de Villepin, have made increasingly firm public statements against anti-Semitism.  

But condemnation has been tempered by the revelation that at least two recent high-profile cases were not the work of racists, as first thought.  

In one, the female "victim" of a supposed gang assault on a Paris suburban train in July later admitted she had fabricated the whole story.  

In the other, an arson attack on a Jewish community centre in the capital last month, police eventually arrested a Jewish former worker at the centre and placed him under criminal investigation on suspicion of torching the place and scrawling swastikas and anti-Jewish slogans inside.  

According to Cohen, police will increase patrols around some synagogues, especially in the northern suburbs of Paris, which have high concentrations of North African immigrants.

© AFP

 

Subject: French News

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