Three Bnei Akiva teens beaten in Paris attack
Follow The JC on Twitter
Paris police launched an investigation after three Jewish teenagers were attacked as they returned home from Sabbath services at a synagogue.
However, despite complaints by the community, investigators have not yet ruled that the incident was motivated by antisemitism.
The victims, Dan Nabet, Kevin Bitan and David Buaziz, who are aged 16 to 18 and are all members of the Bnei Akiva religious Zionist youth movement, were attacked in the early evening of last Saturday in Paris's northern 19th quarter. Jewish groups have complained that the area has suffered an increase in antisemitic incidents in recent years.
Last Saturday, the three youths, all wearing kippot, passed by a group of young men when one of them was hit on the head by a small rock before a fight ensued. Another group of assailants - some reportedly sporting brass knuckledusters - joined the original attackers and the beating only stopped when other residents approached the area.
The assault took place metres away from the site of a previous attack in June when a Jewish youth was beaten up.
All three youths were injured and briefly hospitalised before they filed a complaint at police headquarters.
Interior Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie said she was appalled by the "antisemitic attack on three Jewish adolescents on their way to the synagogue", as did the mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë.
Reporting the incident, the press also described the attack as a case of "suspected antisemitism".
Community leaders called for heightened security ahead of the upcoming Jewish festivals.
But police investigators stressed they were not certain the assault was indeed antisemitic, arguing that no anti-Jewish hate slogans were uttered. "There is no need for antisemitic slurs to identify the crime as antisemitic, just as there is no need for anti-Muslim slogans in order to define an assault on a veiled woman as a hate crime," Sammy Ghozlan of the Vigilance Bureau against Antisemitism told the JC. "The police are just trying to quieten things down to avoid a greater flare-up."
The Jewish umbrella organisation CRIF agreed the assault was "obviously antisemitic" while the Jewish student organisation UEJF emphasised that the three victims were model students who had no prior involvement in violence of any kind.
UEJF's statement was a reference to the case of Rudy Haddad, the 17-year-old beaten to a coma in an attack on 21 June this year, who had participated in a previous street fight between Jewish and multi-ethnic gangs.
Because of Haddad's past experience, that attack was considered by many as a simple street battle and not a hate crime.