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Muslims tied to violence directed at Jews in France
SARCELLES, France — The gunshots outside a synagogue and the grenade that shattered the windows of a kosher grocery spread fear into the streets – but caused little surprise.
Jews across France say anti-Semitic threats have escalated since a deadly assault on a Jewish school in the southwestern town of Toulouse this spring. The attack on the grocery store in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles and the shooting outside the synagogue in nearby Argenteuil came in late September.
In all cases, police suspect Muslim extremists. The Toulouse attacker was a Frenchman trained by Islamist terrorists.
Anti-terrorist police killed one man and arrested 11 in raids this month against an Islamist cell suspected in the Sarcelles attack.
French Jews believe the danger comes from radical messages that appeal to young Muslims in France who are unemployed, angry, alienated and looking for someone to blame.
France has struggled to address the problem head-on because of the social sensitivities.
President Francois Hollande has promised the head of an umbrella group of Muslim organizations that the government would not stigmatize all Muslims for anti-Semitic acts committed by a radical fringe.
Interior Minister Manuel Valls urged respect for all religions in a country that has Western Europe’s largest Jewish and Muslim communities. France has about 5 million Jews and 500,000 Muslims.
“These are not terrorist networks that come from outside. They are from our neighborhoods,” Mr. Valls said on the TF1 television network.
Haunted by the Holocaust
The French government remains haunted by its complicity in sending tens of thousands of French Jews to their deaths in the Holocaust. Two days after the Sarcelles attack, Mr. Hollande traveled to a place used during World War II as a transit point for people destined for concentration camps.
Anti-Semitic groups “don’t have the same face as yesterday, but they have the same goal,” he said.
The recent attacks have unsettled Jews, many of whom thought that anti-Semitism had faded since the 1980s when members of the far-right fringe tipped over gravestones and defaced synagogues with graffiti.
“Anti-Semitism previously came from the extreme right, and the movements expressed their attitudes toward Jews with posters, words, perhaps by desecrating a cemetery,” said Yossi Malka, a Moroccan Jew who settled in Sarcelles in the 1980s.
“Today, we have an anti-Semitism that doesn’t end with words but goes into the realm of action.”
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