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France

French minister deplores 'anti-Semitic' basis of attack on couple

Law court at Créteil on the outskirts of Paris, where the attack took place.
Law court at Créteil on the outskirts of Paris, where the attack took place. (GNU Free Documentation license)

France's interior minister on Wednesday condemned an attack on a couple who were allegedly targeted because they were Jewish.

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Armed assailants stormed an apartment, raped the woman and stole bank cards and jewelry.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in a statement that the "anti-Semitic nature [of the attack] seems proven," adding that the assailants "started with the idea that being Jewish means having money."

The attack happened around lunchtime on Monday, when a 21-year-old man and his 19-year-old girlfriend were in an apartment in Creteil just outside Paris.

According to the family's lawyer, the attackers said "you Jews, you have money" when entering while wearing masks and gloves.

The father of the family wears the Jewish yarmulke cap and those in the neighbourhood would have known they were Jewish, said lawyer Severine Benayoun.

The suspects were armed with an automatic pistol and a sawn-off shotgun. They tied up the victims, raped the young woman and fled an hour later after stealing jewelry, bank cards and mobile phones, a source familiar with the case said.

Two suspects accused of participating in the violence were charged on Wednesday with gang rape, armed robbery, kidnapping and extortion followed by violence due to religious affiliation, prosecutors said.

The third suspect in the attack remains at large. A fourth suspect has been arrested as an alleged accomplice in the robbery.

The accused are also suspected of having beaten a Jewish man in his 70s in November.

A lawyer for one of the suspects said the interior ministry had reacted prematurely and condemned the "media frenzy" surrounding the case.

Anti-Semitic attacks nearly doubled in France in the first seven months of the year, the country's main Jewish group said in September.

A total of 529 anti-Semitic actions or threats were registered up to the end of July, against 276 for the same period last year, the Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF) said, citing figures from the interior ministry.

During protests in France against Israel’s action in Gaza in July some demonstrators shouted “Death to Jews”.
 

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