Thousands rally in France to oppose recent anti-Semitic acts

Rallies against anti-Semitism have attracted crowds of thousands in Paris and other French cities following a series of aggressive acts targeting Jewish sites.

In the French capital, former presidents Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy joined a rally led by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Republic Plaza.

Political parties from across the spectrum participated in the nationwide rallies with the theme “That’s enough”, although Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party held a separate event.

French President Emmanuel Macron pays tribute in front of vandalised graves (Frederick Florin/AP)

French President Emmanuel Macron went to the Shoah Memorial, a Holocaust museum in Paris, to observe a moment of silence with parliament leaders.

“Every time a French person, because he or she is Jewish, is insulted, threatened — or worse, injured or killed — the whole Republic” is attacked, Mr Macron said at a news conference in Paris.

Hours before the rallies started, Mr Macron visited a vandalised Jewish cemetery in Quatzenheim, a small town in the north-eastern Alsace region.

He said he felt shame at the sight of the defaced grave markers.

“This looks like absurd stupidity,” the French leader said, looking visibly sad and concerned.

Mr Macron observed several moments of silence in front of the vandalised graves while local Jewish community representatives stood by.

“We will take action,” he promised.

France is home to the world’s largest Jewish population outside Israel and the United States.

Among the incidents arousing worries of renewed anti-Semitism was a torrent of hate speech directed at Jewish philosopher Alain Finkielkraut during a Saturday march by yellow vest protesters.

In recent incidents, swastika graffiti was found on street portraits of Simone Veil — a survivor of Nazi death camps and a European Parliament president who died in 2017.

The word “Juden” was painted on the window of a bagel restaurant in Paris, and two trees planted at a memorial honouring a young Jewish man tortured to death in 2006 were vandalised, one cut down.

Two youths were arrested on Friday after they allegedly fired shots at a synagogue with an air rifle in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles, where a large Jewish community lives.

Sarcelles mayor Patrick Haddad told BFMTV on Tuesday that prosecutors believe the motive was anti-Semitism.

- Press Association

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