French officials condemned an attack on a teenager some are saying was anti-Semitic.
French president Nicolas Sarkozy, currently in Israel on a state visit, expressed his “profound indignation” at the incident, in which a 17-year-old boy was attacked. Sarkozy also “renewed his complete determination to combat all forms of racism and anti-Semitism.”
French police have not yet determined the reason for the violent beating by a gang of black youth on Saturday night which has left the boy, identified in the Israeli media as Rudy Haddad, in a coma , though France’s CRIF Jewish umbrella organization and other community leaders qualified the incident as anti-Semitic. Haddad was wearing a kipah as he walked through a heavily Jewish and multi-ethnic area of eastern Paris. Five youths are being held for questioning by Paris police.
Newly-elected Grand Rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, told French radio RTL that it was “probable” but not “certain” that the crime was motivated by anti-Semitism, adding that the French justice system was best equipped to resolve the matter.
However, the socialist European deputy, Pierre Moscovici, joined other politicians in condemning a crime that was “very likely” anti-Semitic, and called on the country to take action.
“We cannot remain silent when it very likely concerns – whatever the circumstances – an anti-Semitic act, which merits absolute indignation,” Moscovici told France Info radio. “We must fight anti-Semitism, which is a plague which continues to ravage our societies, notably the French society.”
The president of the Jewish community council in Paris’ 19th arrondissement district, Rabbi Michel Bouskila, told JTA that some form of an organized response to Rudy’s beating would be discussed with other community leaders Monday.
Jews have been gathering to pray at the Paris hospital where Rudy remains in a coma, and many spontaneously gathered in the 19th district Sunday to express their outrage.
The National Bureau of Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism said that Jewish community leaders had warned officials last week about groups of young blacks wandering through the neighborhood park threatening to attack Jews.
The multi-ethnic 19th district has one of the largest Jewish communities in Paris. It had the city’s largest number of recorded anti-Semitic acts in 2007.