French kosher shop burns down on attack anniversary
A suspected arson attack on a French kosher grocery store revived fears over anti-Semitism on Tuesday, three years to the day since an assault on a Jewish supermarket by an Islamist gunman.
"The damage is believed to be very severe," Creteil prosecutor Laure Beccuau told AFP.
A source close to the police probe said it was "too soon to discuss motives" though Beccuau said investigators do not believe the fire was an accident.
The store was completely gutted in the fire, with the shelves along the aisles -- where the fire is believed to have been started -- blackened and charred, an AFP reporter said.
The Promo & Destock store, whose owner is Muslim, was one of two neighbouring kosher shops in Creteil that were daubed with swastikas last Wednesday.
The second store was also slightly damaged in the fire.
Israel's ambassador to France Aliza Bin Noun called the fire a "shameful provocation" on the third anniversary of the January 9, 2015 attack at the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in eastern Paris.
Jihadist gunman Amedy Coulibaly killed three customers and an employee in an attack that triggered deep concern over growing anti-Semitism.
That attack came two days after Coulibaly's close friends Said and Cherif Kouachi gunned down 12 people at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, kicking off a wave of jihadist attacks in France.
Creteil counts some 23,000 Jews among its 90,000 residents, according to community leader Albert Elharrar who said Jewish groups believe the shops were deliberately targeted at the time of commemorations for the 2015 attacks.
"There's a link between the graffiti and the fire," he told AFP.
"It's clear that they came for no other reason but to attack a kosher shop on the day of the commemorations."
A record 7,900 French Jews emigrated to Israel the year of the Hyper Cacher attack, many of them citing increased fears over anti-Semitism.
Though the exodus has since slowed, a string of anti-Semitic crimes have continued to worry France's large Jewish community.
In 2017, a Jewish woman was pushed to her death from a third-floor window by a Muslim neighbour, while a Jewish family was beaten, held hostage and robbed in what rights groups said was a hate crime.
Former prime minister Manuel Valls told Europe 1 radio that more needed to be done to tackle anti-Semitism, which he said had become "deeply rooted" in France.
"What has changed over the past three years is the awareness of this level of anti-Semitism," he said.
Valls said French society had failed to mobilise in support of Jews following attacks such as the 2012 Islamist shooting at a Jewish school in Toulouse in which four people were killed, three of them children.
"These are crimes that must be prosecuted and condemned, we need to do more," he said.
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