Anti-semitism fears rise after suspected kosher market arson attack

Bessie Dean
January 12, 2018

A source close to the police investigation said it was "too soon to discuss motives". Police did not say whether the fire was the result of arson, according to Le Parisien, although the Associated Press cited the regional prosecutor's office saying they were treating the fire as a criminal act because the store's protective shutters had been forced open.

The alarm was raised in the early hours of the morning, the fire coming days after the store in the southern suburb of Créteil had been defaced with Nazi swastikas. "It's clear that they came for no other reason but to attack a kosher shop on the day of the commemorations".

"There's a link between the graffiti and the fire", Jewish community leader Albert Elharrar told AFP.

The fire spread to an adjacent store, the kosher supermarket HyperCacher, which was also covered with anti-Semitic inscriptions last week.

On Jan. 9, 2015, an Islamist killed four Jews in the Porte de Vincennes branch of Hyper Cacher market in eastern Paris.

A Jewish supermarket in Paris is believed to have been attacked by arsonists, three years to the day since the terror attack on another kosher shop in the city.

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In 2017, a Jewish woman was pushed to her death from a third-floor window by a Muslim neighbour, while a Jewish family was beaten, held hostage and robbed in what rights groups said was a hate crime.

The number of anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic incidents in France has soared recently as French authorities draw attention to the diminishing space of tolerance in French society.

Abdelkader Merah, the brother of the jihadist who carried out the school attack, was handed a 20-year jail sentence in November in a trial that reopened wounds for French Jews.

Israel's ambassador to France, Aliza Bin Noun, took to Twitter to condemn the attack as "a shameful provocation" which demonstrated the importance of fighting anti-Semitism. France is home to Europe's largest Jewish population, estimated between 500,000 and 600,000.

It comes amid fears among France's Jewish community about high levels of anti-Semitism. "These crimes must be prosecuted and condemned, we need to do more".

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