TRAIN ATTACK UNDERLINES ANTI-
SEMITISM IN FRANCE
by Elaine Gamley [Associated Press]
PARIS - Six people attacked a young mother on a suburban Paris train, chopping off her hair and scribbling swastikas on her
abdomen in what leaders denounced yesterday as growing anti-Semitism
[anti-Jewish, anti-Zionist, anti-Israel].

The 23 year old woman, who apparently is not Jewish, was attacked Friday as passengers on the train watched and did nothing
to help.  Her infant child was knocked out of a stroller in the melee, but neither mom nor child was seriously injured.

President Jacques Chirac expressed a sense of "dread" yesterday, and Jewish and Muslim leaders condemned the attack.

"To be Jewish today in France has become an aggravating circumstance," said Sylvain Zenouda of the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism.

According to police, teenage attackers who were armed with knives grabbed the woman's backpack, taking her money and credit cards.  When they saw that her identification card said she lived in the 16th district of Paris, police said they told the woman:
"There are only Jews in the 16th."

The attack then became more than just a robbery.  Police said the suspects cut off the woman's hair and opened her shirt with
their knives, using markers to draw swastikas on her abdomen.

The interior Ministry said the woman is not Jewish, and police said she no longer lives in Paris' 16th district.

That the band of six attackers mistook their victim's identity did nothing to soften the horror in France, where attacks on both
Jews and Muslims have escalated.

The Interior Ministry said Friday that it has recorded 135 anti-Jewish acts in the first six months of this year, as well as 375
threats.  A total of 593 anti-Jewish acts or threats were registered all of last year.

Racist attacks, often against Muslims, also rose.  There were 95 attacks and 161 threats through June, compared to a total of 232
such crimes reported last year.

France is home to the largest Jewish and Muslim populations in western Europe, and Muslims often are blamed for attacks on
Jews.

The president of the umbrella group the French council for the Muslim Faith, Dalil Boubakeur, called the attack "sickening" and
"low-grade banditry."  He also warned against blaming Muslims.

On Thursday, Chirac traveled to a small French town that hid 5,000 Jews from German occupiers during World War II.  "I
ask (the French) to remind their children of the mortal danger of fanaticism, of exclusion, of cowardliness and resignation to
extremism,"
he said.

Roger Cukierman, president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France, said "
government decisions are no
longer sufficient to fight anti-Semitism"
[ anti-Jewish, anti-Zionist,, anti-Israel]. "Society itself needs to be mobilized," he said.

"Each one of us must truly feel threatened by the phenomenon," Cukierman said on France info radio.
Return to Archives Page