France: 8-Year-Old Jewish Girl Harassed, Taunted by Muslim Classmates; Interior Minister Says Fight Against Antisemitism Should be ‘National Cause’
A young Jewish girl in France was harassed and verbally abused by two Muslim schoolmates late last week, France’s RTL radio reported on Saturday.
The incident took place at the Joseph Sibuet elementary school in Mions near Lyons, and the traumatized child now refuses to return to classes.
The girl’s father, Matthieu Zerbib, told French journalist Jonathan-Simon Sellem that the 8-year-old was approached by two boys who asked about her religion at the school’s canteen and explained, “Islam is at war against the Jews, no?”
“She went to see six different adults in the school including a teacher and a woman that worked in the kitchen,” according to Sellem. “She asked for help and nobody wanted to help her.”
Later, in the school’s playground, the instigators prompted others to taunt the victim about her Jewishness and even tried to beat her. The violence was prevented when, after the young girl ran away, two Christian students at the school intervened and hid her in the playground. The girls also located the victim’s younger sister and hid her safely away as well.
According to the French-Jewish blog JSS News, the perpetrators, aged between 9 and 10 and their parents likely won’t face any sanctions besides possible expulsion from the learning institution.
The victim’s parents have complained to school officials and the BNVCA, France’s National Bureau of Vigilance Against Antisemitism, which is headed in Lyon by Zerbib, has asked the mayor of Mions to investigate the affair.
The incident follows a continued rapid increase in antisemitic attacks against Jews in France.
Last week, the French Parliament symbolically voted to recognize “Palestine” and a French-Jewish couple faced an antisemitic home robbery and rape. Two young Jews were also attacked near a synagogue in Créteil.
On Sunday, France’s Minister of the Interior, Bernard Cazeneuve, pledged to make the fight against antisemitism into a “national cause.”
“The Republic will defend you with all its might because without you it would not be the Republic,” Cazeneuve promised at a rally against antisemitism near Créteil. “The Republic will always protect you against actions and words that undermine the very foundation of our fundamental values.”
But some French Jews expressed skepticism over the pledge, which, they say, they have heard many times before.
“I have little confidence in France’s ability to fight this evil that could eventually destroy France,” prominent French-Jewish artist and activist Ron Agam told The Algemeiner. “Jews are in danger and the Republic is not fulfilling its obligation to the 3rd largest Jewish community in the world.”
“The irresponsibility of successive French governments since Lionel Jospin in front of the extraordinary threat of antisemitism in France and in particular the Muslim antisemitism leaves me cold in front this new sensational proclamation,” Agam said. “France is lax and unconscious towards this perverse ideology often embodied by radical Islam but misunderstood by the silent Muslim majority.”
In recent years, record numbers of French Jews have emigrated to Israel.