update deskAntisemitism

Macron denounces ‘scourge of antisemitism’ after Jewish girl raped

Three teenagers were indicted after the attack near Paris.

French President Emmanuel Macron in Jerusalem, Jan. 22, 2020. Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90.
French President Emmanuel Macron in Jerusalem, Jan. 22, 2020. Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90.

After three boys were indicted for the rape of a 12-year-old Jewish girl in a Paris suburb, French President Emmanuel Macron again spoke out against hatred of Jews.

At a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Macron “spoke solemnly and seriously about the scourge of antisemitism” and called for a “dialogue” on racism and hatred of Jews in schools to prevent “hateful speech with serious consequences” from “infiltrating” classrooms, AFP cited a source as saying.

The boys, two aged 13 and one 12, were arrested on Monday and indicted on Tuesday.

The 13-year-olds were charged with gang rape, antisemitic insults and violence and issuing death threats. They remain in custody.

The 12-year-old was charged with antisemitic insults and violence and issuing death threats, but not with rape. He was allowed to return home after being charged.

On Saturday afternoon, the girl, who had spent the afternoon with friends, was crossing Henri Regnault Park in Courbevoie, when she came across two boys, one of whom she vaguely knew. (Part of the La Défense business district spreads over the southern part of Courbevoie.)

They blocked her way and forced her to follow them to an abandoned daycare center. A third boy joined them and started insulting the girl as a “dirty Jew,” the teenagers told police.

One of the attackers held a lighter next to her face and threatened to burn her. They forced her to perform vaginal, anal and oral sex on them, and threatened to kill her if she told anyone.

Afterwards, the girl made her way home and told her parents what had happened. A friend who was with her when the boys took her was able to give a detailed description of the suspects, who police confirmed were at the crime scene through images from security cameras.

The attack drew condemnation from across France’s political spectrum amid a heated campaign ahead of snap parliamentary elections later this month.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the far-left France Unbowed party, denounced “antisemitic racism” in an X post.

Far-right leader Jordan Bardella called to “combat” the “antisemitism that has swept down on France since October 7.”

Another right-wing leader, Marine Le Pen, accused the “extreme left” of stigmatizing Jews over the past eight months “through the instrumentalization of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

France’s Chief Rabbi Haïm Corsia wrote on X that he was “horrified” by the attack.

“Justice must firmly sanction the perpetrators of this despicable act. No one can be excused from this unprecedented antisemitic surge. No one can ignore that the slayers of hatred also have their share of responsibility.”

France is home to the largest Muslim population Europe and has seen a surge in antisemitic acts since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack. Antisemitic acts have tripled in the first months of 2024 compared to the same period last year, France24 reported, citing official numbers.

Out of 1,676 antisemitic acts recorded last year, 12.7% occurred in schools.

While Macron has condemned antisemitism, he has often taken a critical stance towards Israel’s war effort in Gaza. In March, Macron said that the forcible transfer of Gazans from Rafah ahead of a prospective Israeli military operation in the city would constitute a “war crime.”

In November, Macron claimed during a BBC interview that Israel was killing women and children in Gaza.

“De facto—today civilians are being bombed. These babies, these women, these old people are being bombed and killed. So there is no reason for it and no legitimacy. So we do plead with Israel to stop,” the French leader said.

The remarks drew condemnation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said that Macron “made a serious mistake, factually and morally” and that “the responsibility for any harm to civilians lies with Hamas-ISIS and not with Israel.”

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