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Hundreds demonstrate in Paris against anti-Semitism

About a thousand people, most of them Jewish, demonstrated in Paris’ Town Hall Square on Wednesday evening to protest the rape of a 12-year-old Jewish girl in the town of Courbevoie, west of the French capital, was investigated by local police as an anti-Semitic incident. The demonstrators, who came to protest in response to the organization’s call #stopantisemitism, waved signs demanding an end to violence against Jews in the country.

“In France in 2024, a girl is being raped because she is Jewish,” read one of the signs, carried by Alexandra, who lives in Paris’s 18th arrondissement. “We can’t go on like this any longer,” she says. “I have children this age. How will we live? Will we wake up every morning wondering if some madman will take my daughter to a hangar and rape her? People need to wake up and understand what is happening around them. “

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Protest in Paris: ‘A girl is being raped in France in 2024 because she is Jewish’

(Photo: Tamar Sebok)

The rape case came to light on Tuesday. Three boys were arrested on Monday. Two of them, both aged 13, were accused of gang rape, anti-Semitic insults and violence and making death threats, and were taken into custody. The third boy, 12, has also been charged with anti-Semitic insults and violence and making death threats, but not with rape. After being charged, he was allowed to return home.

The girl said the attack took place in an abandoned building on Saturday and that the three attackers beat and insulted her because of her religion. Medical examination revealed that she had been raped.

During the investigation, anti-Semitic comments and images were found on the phone of one of the suspects, including a photo of a burned Israeli flag. The suspects called the girl a “dirty Jewess” and one of them put a lighter in front of her and threatened to burn her, La Figaro reported.

Julia, who lives in the heart of the city, also came to the demonstration. “I’m not afraid to wear the Star of David…I wear it with pride,” she said. She expressed her disappointment at the number of protesters who came out. ‘There should have been thousands of people here, thousands of mothers of all colors and religions. Where are they?’ she asked. She and Rebecca, another protester, started talking when they noticed they were both wearing chains in support of the return of the Israeli hostages from Gaza.

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French teenagers protest against anti-Semitic rape in Paris

(Photo: Tamar Sebok)

Rivka, who lives in the heart of the Orthodox Jewish district in Paris’s 19th arrondissement, also came to the demonstration. “I have been insulted twice on the street, once by a boy of Arab descent and once by a man with a European appearance. Ignorant people are importing the conflict here,” she told Ynet. “But it started earlier. How is it possible that the criminal who dumped Sara Halimi out of the window is walking free? They failed to protect us and this is the result.”

As much as possible, she tries to tackle anti-Semitism using humor. “A fourteen-year-old boy called me ‘Mein Kampf’ when I was with the children and grandchildren. It hurt me, but I told myself that at least he had a general knowledge of the culture,” she says.

A group of 17-year-old French Jewish teenagers also came to the demonstration. They stood covered in the French flag and carried a sign that read: “This could have been your sister” and “She was raped at the age of 12 because she is Jewish.”

Lawyer Élie Korchia, president of the Consistoire, the umbrella organization of Jewish communities and organizations in France, told Ynet that French Jews have been “living in an unbearable atmosphere of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism” since October 7. He emphasized that the moment the rapists learned that the girl was Jewish, they started attacking and even said they were “taking revenge for Palestine.” He said the community is supporting the girl and her family.

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Demonstration against anti-Semitic rape on Paris Town Hall Square

(Photo: Tamar Sebok)

Officials from across the political spectrum in France condemned the rape, and French President Emmanuel Macron asked at the cabinet meeting whether discussions on anti-Semitism would take place at school in the coming days. Jordan Bardella, chairman of the far-right National Front party, which is expected to make big gains in elections at the end of the month, said there has been an anti-Semitic atmosphere in France since October 7: “I have never tolerated any expression of racism,” he emphasized.

The leader of the radical left and anti-Israel alliance, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, head of the La France Insoumise party, tried to draw attention to the behavior of the attackers, and less to the anti-Semitic motive. “Shocked by the rape in the city of Courbevoie,” he posted online, “by the upbringing and manly behavior of the criminals that resulted, as well as by the anti-Semitic racism. I express my solidarity with the victim and her family and join them in their grief.” He also wrote: “Let us not use the terrible crime and the suffering it causes in the media.”

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