France's Hollande slams 'anti-Semitic' attack on couple

4th December 2014, Comments 0 comments

French President Francois Hollande on Thursday slammed an "unbearable" attack on a couple by assailants who apparently targeted them because the man is Jewish, storming into their flat, raping the woman and stealing jewelry and bank cards.

Both the country's prime minister and interior minister have already blasted the brutal assault, which happened on Monday in the Paris suburb of Creteil, as "anti-Semitic."

And on Thursday, Hollande said these types of violent tragedies did not only hurt the families and that "it's the best of France that finds itself hurt, broken."

He said the assault showed that "evil sweeps through our societies" and denounced "a form of violence all the more unbearable because it aims to divide."

According to the male victim, the assailants who barged into the flat told them they had not chosen the place at random.

"We know that your brother is the manager of a big clothing chain. We know he has the cash till," one of them said according to the victim, who was interviewed by BFMTV.

"In any case, you Jews, you have money," the assailant added, according to the victim.

The father of the man wears a Jewish skull cap and those in the neighbourhood would have known they were Jewish, said lawyer Severine Benayoun.

Police spotted the three alleged assailants soon after Monday's attack, and while two of them were detained in possession of stolen jewelry -- and subsequently recognised by the victims -- the third is on the run.

A suspected accomplice has also been arrested, and all three are charged with violence due to religious affiliation and criminal conspiracy.

The two allegedly involved in the attack have also been charged with gang rape, armed robbery, kidnapping and extortion.

The accused are also suspected of having beaten a Jewish man in his 70s in November.

But a lawyer for one of the suspects said the interior ministry had reacted prematurely and condemned the "media frenzy" surrounding the case.

France is home to some 500,000-600,000 Jews, the third largest Jewish population in the world, after Israel and the United States.

Tensions over the recent Gaza conflict spilled out into the streets in July with looters destroying Jewish businesses and shouting anti-Israeli slogans.

© 2014 AFP

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