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Three Jewish teens in Paris were attacked recently because of their faith, a French Jewish leader reiterated.

A Jewish suspect charged with participating in the group assault of the kipot-wearing teens on Sept. 6 “intervened at a later time,” said Richard Prasquier, the president of the French Jewish umbrella organization CRIF in an interview with the daily Le Figaro published Saturday.

Paris prosecutors ruled out anti-Jewish motives to the crime last week mainly because one of the five suspects charged was Jewish, though Jewish leaders and French officials initially believed otherwise.

Though his participation did not absolve the suspect of having racist motives, Prasquier said an act can be defined as anti-Semitic when a Jewish target is singled out. “There were a lot of people out that Saturday afternoon, and it was at them [the three Jewish teens] that the projectiles were thrown. It’s from that point on that one can legitimately evoke the motive of anti-Semitism,” said Prasquier. “The fact that one of the attackers, whom moreover intervened at a later time, is Jewish doesn’t change the problem: The anti-Semitic act comes from the choice of target and not from the person who commits it.” Paris prosecutors could not confirm when the Jewish suspect began to participate in the crime. In the same interview, Prasquier also lamented that French Jews are so accustomed to various and widespread forms of anti-Semitism that they do not even report incidents. Though the number of such crimes has not risen in France, he said it remains at a steady “high” level of 82 incidents for the first four months of 2008. “The most worrisome is to see the most classic theses of anti-Semitism recycled today … a kind of normalization of anti-Semitism,” he said.

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