Tunis: Muslim Cell Allegedly Tried to Kidnap Jewish Child (VIDEO)
Three would-be Muslim kidnappers failed in an attempted kidnapping of a 12-year-old Jewish child in the tiny community’s ancient quarter on the Tunisian island of Djerba on the eve of Sukkot, Israel’s NRG News reported Sunday.
The boy, who preferred not to give his name for fear of his life, testified that a bearded man and a friend entered the Jewish neighborhood, approached the child, and told him to get into a waiting taxi.
The taxi driver, who was apparently part of the kidnapping cell, aroused the boy’s suspicion, and he refused to enter the vehicle. The child started shouting for help, and the two alleged kidnappers fled on waiting motorcycles, as did the cabbie, in his vehicle.
Jewish community leaders quickly filed a complaint with police, and investigators questioned the child over the incident, and began searching for the suspects.
Police said a number of motives were being investigated, and were not sure if antisemitic motives were behind the kidnapping.
“Especially this year, unlike previous years, many foreign guests came to celebrate Sukkot in Tunis,” an official said of the festive holiday. “These are mostly visitors from France, visiting their families on the island of Djerba.”
“Undoubtedly, cases such as those in which Jews are attacked due to their background impair relations with neighboring Muslims and mar the holiday spirit.”
In a similar alleged attempt in 2012, Tunisian security forces arrested four suspects who planned to hold the hostages for ransom, according to an Interior Ministry official.
Meanwhile, in Tunis, preparations are underway for parliamentary elections, set for Oct. 26. Jewish community officials said that the authorities are trying to present a pragmatic approach to the country’s minorities, including Jews.
“We, the Jews, have been living here for more than 2,000 years,” according to community resident Claudine Saghroun, Israel’s Ynet News reported in May.
From some 10,000 residents in 1956, about 1,500 Jews remain in Tunisia, concentrated in the island of Djerba.
“And during the (2011) revolution, when at one time there were no more police, Muslims told us ‘Come back to your homes, we’ll protect you.'”
“Just after the revolution, we were afraid. Not anymore,” according to Tunisia’s Grand Rabbi, Haim Bittan at the time.
A 2002 truck bombing, attributed to al-Qaida, according to several intelligence agencies, killed 21 people near the Hara Khirba Quartier Synagogue.
Watch a France 24 video in Jewish life in Djerba:
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