prev Image 2 of 2FILE – In this Sunday, April 30, 2017 file picture, independent centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron looks at some of the 2,500 photographs of young Jews deported from France, during a visit to the Shoah memorial in Paris, France. Frances prime minister is sounding the alarm over a sharp rise in anti-Semitic acts this year, pledging to increase efforts to punish perpetrators and police hate speech online.(Philippe Wojazer/Pool Photo via AP, File)
PARIS – France's prime minister on Friday sounded the alarm over a sharp rise in anti-Semitic acts this year, pledging to increase efforts to punish perpetrators and police hate speech online.
Anti-Semitic acts rocket 69 per cent in France, PM reveals on Kristallnacht anniversary
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced on his Facebook page a 69 percent rise in the number of anti-Semitic acts reported to police in the first nine months of 2018 compared to the same period last year.
Despite years of government efforts to fight it, "we are very far from having finished with anti-Semitism," he wrote. He expressed particular concern because overall, anti-Semitic acts have been on the decline in recent years.
He didn't indicate a reason for the rise, and the government would not release specific figures. Over all of 2017, the government reported 311 anti-Semitic acts, from threats to swastikas on Jewish gravesites to physical attacks on people wearing kippas. That was down from 335 the year before, but the number of violent anti-Semitic acts rose, along with anti-Muslim and other violent hate crimes.
The Interior Ministry said part of the recent rise could be attributed to a government push over the past year to encourage people to report hate crimes, including a new online portal to file police reports.
In a speech at the Bundestag, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the violence on November 9, 1938 marked "the incomparable break from civilisation, Germanys fall into barbarism".
The prime minister promised new measures to better handle victims and punish perpetrators, to take down potentially violent hate speech online more quickly and to help teachers who report anti-Semitic behavior.
"Each attack against one of our compatriots because he or she is Jewish resonates like new broken glass," the prime minister said, in reference to the mass crackdown on Jews throughout Germany and Austria on Nov. 9, 1938 known as the Night of Broken Glass, or Kristallnacht. "It is up to each French person to mobilize 'for' something: for life together, for France's identity, for the values of the Republic."
Islamic extremists targeted a Jewish school and kosher supermarket in two of France's most deadly terrorist attacks in recent years, and some blame Islamic radicalism for resurgent anti-Semitism in France. Muslim leaders acknowledge that some imams have fueled radicalism, but warn against stigmatizing France's millions of moderate Muslims.
Frances prime minister referred to a new Night of Broken Glass across France as he announced that anti-Semitic acts were up by 69 per cent this year.
Edouard Philippe made the claim on the 80th anniversary of the November 1938 pogroms in Germany when Nazis attacked Jewish businesses and synagogues.
"Why recall, in 2018, such a painful memory? Because we are very far from being finished with anti-Semitism," he said, calling the number of acts "relentless".
Every aggression perpetrated against one of our fellow citizens because he is Jewish sounds like a new breakage of glass, Mr Philippe said in a Facebook post.
To refuse to single out the cause of this rise in anti-anti-Semitism is to condemn us to powerlessness and thus to giving up fighting it, wrote Ms Le Pen in a Tweet.
French president Emmanuel Macron visits the Ring of Memory WWI memorial in northern France, as he caused outrage this week by claiming Vichy France leader and Nazi collaborator Philippe Pétain had been a WWI hero
While Mr Philippe did not point to particular acts of physical violence, he made it clear that online hate crimes and related offences went up significantly this year.
He is later due to join Chancellor Angela Merkel and Jewish leaders at Germanys biggest synagogue to commemorate one of the countrys darkest days.
Referring specifically to Kristallnacht – the Night of Broken Glass – Mr Philippe said: Why remember, in 2018, such a painful memory?
Because we are very far from having finished with anti-Semitism. While [anti-Semitism] has been declining for two years, the number of these acts has increased by more than 69% in the first nine months of 2018.
Kristallnacht took place in November 1938 and involved the targeting of Jewish businesses and synagogues by Nazi paramilitaries and civilians.
It was the Night of Broken Glass, as Jewish shop windows were smashed and synagogues were torched.
Mr Philippe said that in relation to anti-Semitism he would let nothing pass, and that new measures included a clampdown on cyber hate crime.
A modification of the law will strengthen the fight against online anti-Semitism, while a new Ministry of Education team will fight against Jewish hate in schools.
Mr Philippes government is also experimenting with a network of investigators and magistrates specifically trained in the fight against hate crimes.
These will target all forms of discrimination, including hate acts aimed at other vulnerable religious communities including Muslims.
Anti-Semitic acts fell by 50 per cent in 2016, according to government figures, and then by a further seven per in 2017.
But more than 500 complaints have already been reported in 2018, accounting for the 69 per cent rise.
Kristallnacht, or the night of broken glass, was an attack on Jewish businesses and synagogues carried out by Nazi paramilitaries and civilians in November 1938
Many are related to Israel, with French Jews frequently complaining that they frequently suffer prejudice because of their links with the Middle Eastern country and its conflict with Palestine.
France has a long history of anti-Semitism behind it, and many say that it remains institutionally racist.
President Emmanuel Macron caused outrage this week by referring to the Nazi collaborator Marshall Philippe Petain as a great soldier.
Petain led French forces to victory during World War I, but then ran the pro-German Vichy regime, allowing thousands of Jews to be entrained to concentration camps where they were murdered.
Petain is still revered, including by some members of the historically notoriously anti-Semitic National Rally (NR) party.
The NR – which used to be called the National Front – is led by Marine Le Pen, and has seen a surge of support since she came runner-up to become head of state in 2017.
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