(JTA) — French President Francois Hollande warned against “religious fundamentalism and intolerance” during a visit to the site of a World War II orphanage for Jewish children.
Hollande on Monday visited the former Izieu orphanage in southern France, which took in orphaned Jewish children fleeing the Nazis. The children and several staff members were deported to Auschwitz on April 6, 1944, on the orders of Gestapo head Klaus Barbie.
The last French president to visit the site was Francois Mitterrand, in 1994.
“Evil did not stop at the doors of this house, but returns whenever totalitarian or fundamentalist religious ideologies grasp ahold of passions and fears,” Hollande said, specifically noting the murder last week by 150 mostly Christian students by Muslim fundamentalists.
“In Syria and Iraq as I speak, minorities are being persecuted for their religious beliefs, their backgrounds and traditions, be they men, women or children,” he added.