(JTA) — A Holocaust memorial in a suburb of Paris was defaced late last week amid widespread protests of the police killing of a French teen.
The memorial in Nanterre — the inner-ring suburb where the teen, who has been identified only as Nahel, lived with his family — was spray-painted with anti-police slogans on Thursday, during the third night of protests across Paris following the police shooting, which was caught on video. Some of the nightly protests have been accompanied by rioting and vandalism that have damaged businesses, cars and public spaces.
“It is truly horrifying to witness the Memorial to the Martyrs of the Deportation in Nanterre being vandalized,” the European Jewish Congress tweeted alongside a video showing protesters standing on a graffitied memorial. “This shameful act of disrespect for the memory of the victims of the Holocaust must be unequivocally condemned and those responsible held accountable.”
The graffiti on the Holocaust memorial said, in French, “Police scum, from Sainte to Nanterre. No forgetting, no forgiveness.” It did not reference the Holocaust or Jews. French Jewish groups told the Times of Israel that the rioting has not targeted Jews or Jewish institutions.
Still, some French Jews said they feared being caught up in the tumult. “There are no special security directives for the city’s Jews,” the Marseille leader of CRIF, an umbrella French Jewish organization, told the Times of Israel. “But it’s a bad idea to go walking around at night for anyone now.”
The protests are the most sweeping France has experienced in years, and reflect deep-seated resentment toward the police from residents of Paris’ low-income inner suburbs, which are home to large communities of Muslim immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa. Hundreds of people have been arrested, and tens of thousands of police officers have been deployed to quell the unrest. The officer who fired the shot into Nahel’s car after he allegedly evaded a traffic stop has been charged with homicide.