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Anti-Semitism may be rising in France

June 7, 2012 at 3:47 PM   |   Comments

PARIS, June 7 (UPI) -- A recent attack against three Jewish people in France has the French Jewish community worrying that anti-Semitism is on the rise, officials say.

On Saturday, three people wearing yarmulkes were attacked by several people carrying a hammer and an iron bar in the southeastern French city of Villeurbanne, France 24 reported Thursday.

The Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions, France's largest Jewish association, released a statement saying the attack "was not an altercation between gangs, but a clear act of anti-Jewish violence."

The association also noted the incident was "far from being an isolated act," particularly after the shooting of four French Jews, including three children, in the southwestern city of Toulouse in March by radical Islamist Mohammed Merah.

Another group, the Service for the Protection of the Jewish Community, published a report condemning "the explosion" of anti-Semitic acts carried out in France since Merah's killings.

The group reported there were 148 anti-Semitic incidents, of which 43 were violent, reported to the Interior Ministry between March 19 and April 30.

The SPCJ expressed concern "some of the people committing the acts feel empathy for Mohammed Merah."

Yet, some experts say there is little connection between Merah and the recent spike in anti-Semitic acts in France, the report said.

"Levels of anti-Semitic incidents are never stable, but rise and fall quickly," said Laurent Mucchielli, a sociologist from France's National Center for Scientific Research. "Nothing indicates that the Merah murders and the incident in Villeurbanne are related. We should be wary of generalizations."

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