French Court Convicts Man for Antisemitic Assault on Young Muslim in Process of Converting to Judaism
A court in France passed sentence on Monday on one of the men involved in a violent antisemitic assault last week on a young Algerian Muslim who was in the process of converting to Judaism.
The assailant — a 21-year-old homeless man — will serve a one-year prison sentence for his part in the attack on the victim, a 26-year-old named Younes who gave an extensive interview about his ordeal to the news outlet Le Parisien.
The attack occurred on the evening of Sept 2. as Younes was walking to his home in the Aubervilliers suburb of Paris. Spotting the Star of David necklace Younes was wearing, three men approached him, and one of them yelled in Arabic, “Dirty Jew, give us your money!”
Younes was then robbed of his necklace, his wallet and his phone. As they rounded on him, one of the men poked Younes in the chest with the tip of a knife, drawing blood.
As the three assailants left the scene, Younes decided to pursue them. Seeing one of the assailants entering a fast food restaurant, Younes followed him inside, where he explained that the man had robbed him and asked other customers to call the police. None of those present responded to his appeal, leading Younes to reflect in his interview, “I think they were afraid of reprisals.”
Moments later, a passing police patrol arrested one of the attackers, named as Mohammed. Prior to his sentencing on Monday, Mohammed reportedly apologized to his victim in court.
Younes said that in the wake of the attack, he was no longer wearing Jewish symbols in public. However, he emphasized that the experience had only deepened his commitment to converting to Judaism, which he described as his “spiritual quest.”
“[The attack] made me even stronger,” Younes said. “I had thought that because of my looks and my culture of origin, this sort of thing couldn’t happen to me.”
Younes said that he was aware of about 20 Muslims who were converting to Judaism through the Consistoire Israélite, the body that manages Jewish institutions in France.
After his conversion was complete, Younes said, he intended to move to Israel.
“I plan to make aliyah,” he said. “But this was a desire I had already before the attack.”