French PM says anti-Semitic acts in country up 69% this year

Edouard Philippe calls spate of attacks on Jews ‘relentless,’ vows to toughen hate speech rules and take new measures to tackle the problem

By AFP Today, 11:08 am
Participants walk behind banners holding placards during a silent march in Paris in memory of Mireille Knoll, an 85-year-old Jewish woman murdered in her home in what police believe was an anti-Semitic attack, held on on March 28, 2018. (Francois Guillot/AFP)

PARIS, France — Anti-Semitic acts in France rose by 69 percent in the first nine months of 2018, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Friday, the 80th anniversary of the infamous “Kristallnacht” of Nazi attacks against Jews.

“Every aggression perpetrated against one of our citizens because they are Jewish echoes like the breaking of new crystal,” Philippe wrote on Facebook, referring to the start of the Nazi drive to wipe out Jews on November 9, 1938, also known as the Night of Broken Glass.

“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.”

After a record year in 2015, the total number of anti-Semitic acts, including nonviolent ones, fell by 58% in 2016 and went down a further 7% last year, despite there being an increase in the number of violent acts.

In his Facebook post, Philippe quoted Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel as saying that “the real danger, my son, is indifference,” pledging that the French government would not be indifferent.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe delivers a speech at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, during a government seminar following the first weekly cabinet meeting of the year, on January 3, 2018. (AFP/Pool/Benoit Tessier)

The government plans to toughen rules on hate speech online next year, pressuring social media giants to do more to remove racist and anti-Semitic content.

Philippe said it would also “experiment with a network of investigators and magistrates specially trained in the fight against acts of hate,” which could be extended nation-wide.

He added that from mid-November a national team would be mobilized to intervene in schools to support teachers facing anti-Semitism.

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