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France

Jewish group asks France to rename ‘Death to Jews’ hamlet

© Google Maps screen grab

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-08-12

Prominent Jewish group the Simon Wiesenthal Centre has asked France's interior minister to change the name of a tiny hamlet south of Paris that has been called “La Mort aux Juifs” since the Middle Ages.

“La Mort aux Juifs” can be translated as either “Death to Jews” or “The death of the Jews”.

The group's director of international affairs, Shimon Samuels, wrote to Bernard Cazeneuve saying he was "shocked to discover the existence of a village in France officially called ‘Death to Jews’.”

"It is extremely shocking that this name has slipped under the radar in the 70 years that have passed since France was liberated from Nazism and the (pro-Nazi) Vichy regime," he wrote.

However, the deputy mayor of the village of Courtemaux – population 289 – which has jurisdiction over the hamlet dismissed the concerns.

"It's ridiculous. This name has always existed," Marie-Elizabeth Secretand told AFP. "No one has anything against the Jews, of course. It doesn't surprise me that this is coming up again."

Changing the name would require a decision by the municipal council, which Secretand said was unlikely.

"Why change a name that goes back to the Middle Ages or even further? We should respect these old names."

In 1992, an anti-racism organisation lobbied the interior minister and the authorities unsuccessfully to get the name changed.

In May, residents of a town in Spain with a similarly unfortunate name, Castrillo Matajudios ("Castrillo Kill Jews"), did vote to change the name, which had existed since 1623, to the less offensive Mota de Judios, or "Hill of the Jews".

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2014-08-12

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