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Protests after French anti-Semitic attack

   PARIS, March 5, 2008 – France’s main Jewish group voiced indignation
Wednesday after it emerged a gang had locked up and attacked a Jewish youth in
the same Paris suburb where a young Jew was tortured to death two years ago.
   Six youths from Bagneux, south of Paris, are accused of locking up a
19-year-old youth in a storage room on February 22, beating and sexually
tormenting him, and scrawling ‘dirty Jew’ and ‘dirty faggot’ on his face.
   Aged 17 to 25, the youths — who knew the victim — had falsely accused him
of stealing from them, according to judicial officials. The young man was
later hospitalised "in a state of shock".
   Richard Prasquier, head of the French Council of Jewish Institutions, the
CRIF, said the incident confirmed the "need to remain vigilant in the face of
   He said it was proof that anti-Semitism "remains deeply present" in France,
despite a fall in the number of recorded anti-Semitic incidents from 371 in
2006 to 261 last year.
   Bagneux city hall issued a statement condemning the incident, saying it was
"shocked and outraged".
   The youths face charges of group violence motivated by a person’s "real or
supposed race, religion or sexual orientation", acts of torture, blackmail and
   A young Jewish man, 23-year-old Ilan Halimi, was kidnapped for three weeks
and tortured to death by a violent extorsion gang from Bagneux in 2006, in a
suspected anti-Semitic crime that shocked the country.
   Close to 30 people are under investigation over the killing, with the
gang’s alleged ringleader, Youssef Fofana, to stand trial for murder in the
coming months.
   Anti-Semitism is a sensitive issue in France, where the 600,000-strong
Jewish community is western Europe’s largest, and which is also home to a
five-million strong Muslim population.