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October 22, 2020 1:38 pm

Antisemitic Thug Who Assaulted Jewish Street Artist in Strasbourg Cleared of Extortion Charge by French Court

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avatar by Ben Cohen

Police on duty in the French city of Strasbourg. Photo: Reuters / Elyxandro Cegarra.

A man who engaged in an antisemitic assault against a young Jewish graffiti artist in the French city of Strasbourg was released by a court following a hearing on Wednesday.

The unnamed 38-year-old assailant, who did not attend the proceedings at the Strasbourg criminal court, was cleared of the crime of committing extortion aggravated by religious hatred.

However, the public prosecutor’s office intends to bring fresh charges against the assailant for the crime of “public insult.”

The lawyer for Raphael Nisand — the artist who was attacked and subjected to anti-Jewish invective — observed that the credibility of the French judiciary’s response to antisemitic outrages was again being tested.

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“If we leave it at that, this decision would be highly scandalous,” Nisand’s lawyer told the AFP news agency.

“It would show that the public prosecutor’s office is unresponsive in a case of antisemitism, the justice system is voiceless and powerless,” the lawyer added, confirming his intention to appeal.

The assault occurred on Aug. 26 as Nisand was working in the center of Strasbourg on a project commissioned by the municipality. He was verbally insulted and jostled by two men after they noticed him wearing a t-shirt that displayed the names of several countries and cities, including Israel.

One of the assailants aggressively told Nisand, “You are a Jew, you have no place here,” before telling the artist to change his shirt — which he duly did.

But when he returned to complete his work, Nisand was confronted again by the same man, who grabbed one of his paint canisters and sprayed offensive slogans on the ground, including “forbidden to Jews” and “bitch.”

Nisand reported the incident to his manager at the Strasbourg City Council, and filed a complaint with police.

The assault on Nisand was widely condemned by politicians, including Josiane Chevalier, the prefect of the Bas-Rhin region where Strasbourg is located, who called it an “intolerable act.”

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