PARIS, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Anti-Semitic and racist acts dropped markedly in France last year, compared with 2004.
French authorities registered a total of 974 racist and anti-Semitic acts or threats for 2005, compared to 1,574 in 2004 -- nearly a 50 percent drop, according to statistics released Thursday.
Experts attribute the drop to a mix of factors, from stepped up policing and security to more preventative actions, to political changes overseas -- notably regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Many anti-Semitic acts have been blamed on youths of ethnic-Arab origin carrying out their grievances against the Middle East conflict on French soil.
France is home to the largest numbers of Jews and Muslims in Europe.
The number of anti-Semitic acts has been dropping steadily in recent years.
Two years ago, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon described France as having the "worst sort" of anti-Semitism and urged French Jews to immigrate to Israel.
But last year, Sharon praised the French government for cracking down on anti-Semitism and called their actions a "model" for other countries.