PARIS (Oct. 8)
President Valery Giscard d’Estaing today condemned last week’s bomb attack on the Rue Copernic Temple and sought to reassure the 700,000-strong Jewish community of France that there was no “resurgence of fascism in the country.
The President said on television that French society remained pluralist, tolerant and fraternal. He refuted opposition charges that the police had shown laxity in fighting extreme rightwing terrorism and said that he had given strict orders to the police and the courts to pursue, by all legal means their search for those responsible for last Friday’s bombing in which four people were killed.
The President’s unexpected appearance on television followed a Cabinet meeting which was devoted to the attack against the synagogue and its repercussions.
“My constant guideline and concern is that French Jews should feel accepted and treated as all French men and women are … while at the same time conserving, as they wish to and just like other French communities, their religion and their cultural personality,” Giscard said.
He added that he had ordered government officials throughout the country’s 95 administrative departments to call meetings on Friday with local religious, trade union and human rights representatives to show their solidarity and examine problems affecting the security of local community groups.
Giscard d’Estaing stressed that on the same day education authorities have been asked to ensure that teachers in all schools discuss in their classes the consequences of racism and have sessions stressing “the pluralism, tolerant and fraternal character of French society.”
SAYS CRITICISM OF POLICE IS UNJUSTIFIED
Giscard observed that the criminal act against the synagogue was not a sign that the ideals of racism and Nazism “were coursing through the body of French society. Such actions, which are clearly the work of small groups living apart from the national community, do not justify such a base interpretation.”
Continuing he stated, “As for the insinuation that the police would tolerate such acts, this is unjust and should be condemned …. It is especially unjust because members of the police and gendarmes have been cruelly hit recently in the fight against terrorism.” He added that the government would continue to have confidence in the police and the nation’s system of justice to ensure the security and freedom of all French citizens.
Premier Raymond Barre said accusations of laxity against the authorities were defamatory and scandalous. He added that the synagogue attack was apparently intended to set off a chain of violence in France aimed at threatening the democratic basis of French society.