Fight against anti-Semitism a 'national cause', France says
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France's interior minister joined a rally against anti-Semitism Sunday in the Paris suburb of Créteil, where a Jewish couple was robbed and the woman raped last week, telling the crowd that the fight against anti-Semitism was a "national cause".
"We need to make the fight against racism and anti-Semitism a national cause by involving all the agencies concerned," Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told the rally.
"The [French] Republic will defend you with all its force because, without you, it would no longer be the Republic," he added.
Cazeneuve said that anti-Semitic acts and threats have more than doubled in the past 10 months and called for the authorities to ensure that "none of them goes unpunished".
In what President François Hollande has described as an "unbearable" attack, three armed assailants stormed the flat of a young couple in broad daylight, raping the woman, 19, before stealing jewellery, mobile phones and bank cards.
The attack took place on Monday, when the couple was sitting down to lunch in their apartment.
According to the male victim, 21, who was interviewed on French television, the attackers said they had specifically targeted the couple.
"We know that your brother is the manager of a big clothing chain. We know he has access to the cash till," one of them said, according to the victim.
"In any case, you Jews, you have money," the assailant added.
Cazeneuve told the rally that anti-Semitism was an "evil" that was "eating away" at France.
“Behind this attack there is an evil that is eating away at our country that we must fight, together, at all costs,” he said.
France is home to some 500,000-600,000 Jews, the third-largest Jewish population in the world after Israel and the United States.
Speaking at the same rally, Roger Cukierman, the head of the France's main Jewish organisation, the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions or CRIF, said that "Jews feel in danger. Some are already leaving France."
Tensions over the recent conflict in Gaza turned ugly back in July, with some pro-Palestinian demonstrators looting or destroying Jewish businesses.
The number of French Jews who have moved to Israel in the first 10 months of 2014 has more than doubled compared to last year, a leading Jewish agency said last week, attributing the spike to both the sluggish economy and a rise in anti-Semitic sentiment in France.
Some 2,200 Jews left France in the first six months of this year compared with less than 600 who left a year ago.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
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