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September 10, 2017 6:36 pm

French Interior Minister Denounces ‘Cowardly, Odious’ Assault on Sephardic Leader and His Family by Antisemitic Gang

avatar by Ben Cohen

French Sephardic leader Roger Pinto and his family were left deeply traumatized following the attack on their home by an antisemitic gang. Photo: Tribune Juive

France’s Interior Minister strongly condemned a vicious antisemitic hate crime in Paris that occurred last Thursday, in which three members of a Jewish family were tied up, beaten and robbed by attackers who told their victims, “you are Jews, you have money.”

Interior Minister Gérard Collomb decried what he called “a cowardly act” that “seems directly linked to the religion of its victims” in a statement issued on Sunday.

Collomb expressed his “profound support for the family and for the Jewish institutions of France.”

“Every effort will be made to identify and arrest the authors of this odious aggression,” a statement from Collomb’s office said. “The Minister has full confidence in the Paris police services to take determined action in this enquiry.” The statement pledged that France’s government would “do everything to indefatigably combat every form of racism and antisemitism, which have no place in the French Republic.”

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Shimon Samuels – international affairs director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), a prominent Jewish human rights group  – said in an earlier letter to Collomb following the attack that while “terrorism has been indiscriminate, its primary focus is still on Jewish targets that require the protection of the State.”

During Thursday’s attack, according to France’s National Bureau for Vigilance against Anti-Semitism (BNVCA), three individuals identified as black men in their late twenties broke into the house of Roger Pinto, the president of the Siona group representing Sephardic Jews, by cutting through window bars of his home in the Livry Gargan neighborhood. They then cut off the electricity in the house, tied up Pinto’s son, and held and beat his wife. It was only on Friday morning, several hours later, that Pinto managed to discreetly contact police, causing the intruders to flee.

According to the BNVCA report, the unidentified attackers told their victims, “You are Jewish, you have money.”

The Pintos were taken to hospital for treatment following the assault, during which cash, credit cards and jewelry were stolen. The family suffered some minor injuries but were deeply traumatized, the report said.

The BNVCA called the attack “manifestly anti-Semitic” and “premeditated,” and said the family was “threatened with death” and “violently beaten.”

Francis Kalifat, the president of CRIF, France’s Jewish representative body, declared that “this odious act is proof, if we needed any, that the Jews of France are especially threatened in the street, and even more disturbingly, within their very homes.”

The SWC’s Samuels noted that the attack on the Pinto family “follows the April murder of 65 year old Sarah Halimi, first tortured and then thrown from her third floor balcony by her neighbor who was screaming ‘Allahu Akbar.'”

Samuels pointed out the reluctance of the French authorities to treat Halimi’s murder as an antisemitic hate crime, a stance that has drawn powerful protests in France. He urged that the assailants in Thursday’s assault “be charged with a hate crime and not excused due to disaffection, as in so many previous attacks.”

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