French ministers have condemned the recent series of antisemitic outbursts in the country, which came to a head on Sunday night when more than 400 people stormed a largely Jewish suburb and attacked a synagogue and kosher supermarket.
The demonstration took place in Sarcelles, north of Paris, when protesters stormed the suburb armed with rocks and petrol bombs and shouting “Death to Jews” and “Slit Jews’ throats”. Many had been encouraged to take part by widely circulated posters saying “Palestine will live” and “Come equipped with hammers and fire extinguishers for a raid on the Jewish district”.
This was despite a government order the previous week banning such protests, following attacks on two synagogues in the capital.
France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Monday: “What happened in Sarcelles was intolerable. Attacking a synagogue and a kosher grocery is quite simply antisemitic and racist.”
This was followed by an emergency meeting of France’s religious leaders, which was called by French President François Hollande. He told them: “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict must not be imported. We will not tolerate any act or speech that could cause a resurgence of antisemitism and racism.”
Violence has spread across France in recent weeks, putting the 500,000-strong Jewish community in fear for their safety. The country holds Europe’s largest Arab-origin Muslim population, which is estimated at five million people.