update deskAntisemitism

Investigation continues after French Jewish boy is threatened with death

“Unfortunately, this kind of antisemitic assault is not an exception,” says Anne-Sophie Sebban-Bécache, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Paris branch.

Émile-Zola Street in the second arrondissement of Lyon, France. Credit: Jean Housen via Wikimedia Commons.
Émile-Zola Street in the second arrondissement of Lyon, France. Credit: Jean Housen via Wikimedia Commons.

In the French city of Lyon near the Cours Émile-Zola intersection on July 24 at around 5:30 p.m., three individuals assaulted an unidentified Jewish 13-year-old boy, shoving and pushing him against a wall. The violence in a small alley stopped when a witness intervened.

After the attack, the still-unknown assailants reportedly told the adolescent, who was wearing traditional religious clothing, that they would kill him if he dared tell anyone of their crime.

The teen was not intimidated by the threat of retaliation, telling his parents upon reaching home and prompting a police visit to begin a hate-crime investigation. According to Anne-Sophie Sebban-Bécache, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Paris branch, no new updates have been filed regarding the case since last week.

Sebban-Bécache told JNS that this act of violence fits with the broader trends of antisemitism throughout the country. “Antisemitic violence is particularly very much present in France,” she said. “The number of violent antisemitic attacks has increased by 8 percent. The case of this young man was covered because local media from Lyon decided to make a story out of it, but unfortunately, this kind of antisemitic assault is not an exception.”

She pointed to recent AJC research showing that 74% of French Jews have experienced antisemitism, while for young French Jews, that number reached as high as 82%. The risk increases for Jews donning visible signs of their religion, with 39% doing so experiencing a physical assault compared to 13% who rarely or never wear such items or clothing.

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