Alleged rape of 12-year-old Jewish girl sparks anti-Semitism outcry in France

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Protesters gather to condemn the gang rape of a 12-year-old girl during a rally in Lyon, France, June 19, 2024.


Allegations that three boys gang-raped a 12-year-old Jewish girl in northern France have sparked an outcry over rising anti-Semitism in the country, a key issue in France's upcoming legislative elections this month -this.

Politicians from all sides have spoken out about the alleged attack, with French President Emmanuel Macron condemning a “scourge of anti-Semitism” that he says is spreading in French schools, and far-right leaders blaming the left not to take anti-Semitism into account. quite seriously.

The Nanterre public prosecutor's office announced on Wednesday that it had opened an investigation into “aggravated rape” of a minor, after receiving “a report from a 12-year-old girl” reporting the facts on June 15.

Three boys, aged 12 and 13, were taken into custody, the prosecutor also said.

Whether the girl was targeted because of her religion is part of the investigation, with two of the boys now under investigation for aggravated gang rape of a minor, gang violence against a minor for reasons of religion, death threats and insult for religious reasons, according to the prosecutor's statement.

The third boy was placed under “assisted witness” status in the context of the alleged rape, added the prosecutor.

The alleged assault allegedly took place as the girl tried to return home after meeting a friend. Two boys approached her and tried to block her way in front of her house. After the arrival of a third boy, the group began to physically attack the young girl, throwing anti-Semitic insults at her, BFMTV reported, citing police sources.

The young girl received several death threats and one of the boys called her a “dirty Jew”, according to the story reported by BFMTV.

Anti-Semitic incidents increased by 284% in France between 2022 and 2023, according to data from the French Interior Ministry. In 2023, anti-Semitic acts accounted for 60% of all anti-religious acts, compared to 26% in 2022, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin told the French Senate earlier this year.

The incident sparked intense political debate over what politicians described as a spiraling anti-Semitism problem in France linked to Israel's war in Gaza.

On Wednesday, Jordan Bardella, the far-right enthusiast who hopes to score big victories for his National Rally party in the upcoming elections, pledged to fight anti-Semitism if elected in three weeks. “Since October 7, an atmosphere of anti-Semitism has spread and grown in an extremely worrying way in our country, which we must fight,” Bardella told reporters.

Bardella's party colleague and far-right heavyweight Marine Le Pen said in an article on X that the attack had outraged her party members, highlighting the surge in anti-Semitic incidents across the country.

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French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysée presidential palace in Paris, France on June 20, 2024.

Le Pen said the recent escalation of the war between Israel and Hamas reveals a worrying “stigma” of the Jewish people that “everyone should be fully aware of” when they go to the polls on June 30 and July 7.

French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, for his part, called the incident “despicable” and directly targeted his left-wing political opponent, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, whom he accused of having downplayed the seriousness of anti-Semitism in France. by calling it “residual”. ” issue.

Politicians in France have a “responsibility” to ensure that anti-Semitic rhetoric is not “trivialized,” Attal said in an interview with TF1 Info on Wednesday, warning that if it is trivialized, it can lead young people into particular to the “worst”.

Mélenchon, for his part, said he was “horrified by this rape”, affirming in a message on social networks that it “put under the spotlight the conditioning of male criminal behavior from a very young age and racism anti-Semitic.”

Voters' anger over the issue became clear Wednesday, as protesters gathered outside Paris City Hall, according to a BFMTV report.

Protesters carried signs with slogans such as “Raped at 12 because she was Jewish” and “Anti-Semitism is not residual,” and listened to speeches from Jewish rights activists present.

“All light must be shed on the circumstances of this crime, including its anti-Semitic character, if confirmed,” declared France’s main Jewish interest group, the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France (CRIF). .

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