Paris assault suspect allegedly was Jewish

One suspected assailant in an attack on three Jewish teens in Paris may have been Jewish, a French Jewish leader said.

Richard Prasquier, the president of the CRIF umbrella organization, told the JTA in a phone interview Monday that Paris police detained for questioning five to six youth of mixed ethnic origin suspected of involvement in the Sept. 6 beating of the kipah-wearing teens. The victims were hospitalized temporarily with minor fractures.

Prasquier said the fact that one of the alleged suspects may have been Jewish “complicated” the affair but still did not negate the anti-Jewish nature of the crime, which occurred on the same street where Jewish teenager Rudy Haddad was severely beaten in June.

“The police say it’s not anti-Semitic if a Jew is involved, but for me, if you throw a stone at a youth wearing a kipah, it’s anti-Semitic,” he said. “There was an anti-Semitic nature to this attack.”

Prasquier also noted that the suspects were not in an organized gang.

A spokeswoman for Paris investigators confirmed to JTA that six suspects were being held for questioning, but she added that it was “too early” to communicate further on the incident and faith of those involved.

French Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie was among the first French officials to denounce the assault as anti-Semitic. Prasquier, along with Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, made public similar conclusions, though police said they could not rule out other motives until completing an investigation.

The Jewish faith of one of the suspected assailants is likely to embroil an already sensitive debate in France on whether such violence is due to anti-Semitism or a mixture of gang violence and random crime in the 19th district, a low-income, immigrant-heavy neighborhood that is home to the capital’s largest Jewish community.

Two of the suspected attackers in the Haddad case are facing charges of “attempting murder,” due in part to anti-Semitic motives.

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