Reported Rape of Child Renews Antisemitism as Election Issue

Far-right party leads in polls ahead of French voting
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 22, 2024 4:15 PM CDT
France Addresses Antisemitism After Reported Rape of Child
People gather against antisemitism, one carrying a placard reading, "Our lives worth more than an imported conflict," on Thursday in Paris.   (AP Photo/Oleg Cetinic)

The reported rape of a 12-year-old Jewish girl in a suspected antisemitic attack has sent shockwaves throughout France and brought concerns about antisemitism to the forefront of campaigning for legislative elections. The anti-immigration National Rally party, which has tried to shed historical links to antisemitism, is leading in pre-election polling and has its first real chance of forming a government, if it comes out on top in the two-round elections that end July 7. It would be the first far-right force to lead a French government since the Nazi occupation, the AP reports.

Far-left figures, meanwhile, have faced accusations of antisemitism linked to their response to Hamas' Oct. 7 attack on Israel and the ensuing war. Concerns came to the fore after two adolescent boys in a Paris suburb were given preliminary charges this week of rape and religion-motivated violence, according to prosecutors. Jewish leader Elie Korchia told French broadcaster BFM that the girl is Jewish and that the word Palestine was mentioned during the attack. The prosecutor's office did not specify the girl's religion or release her identity, as is standard practice for hate crimes in France. Hundreds of people gathered Thursday evening around the Bastille monument in Paris to protest antisemitism, in the second straight night of demonstrations.

Politicians from all sides were quick to comment on the attack, notably after a surge in antisemitic acts in France since the start of the Israel-Hamas war. Prime Minister Gabriel Attal wrote on the social media platform X that the girl was "raped because she's Jewish," while President Emmanuel Macron called on schools to hold a "discussion hour" on racism and antisemitism. Jordan Bardella, president of the National Rally, said that if elected, he would "fight the antisemitism that has been plaguing France since Oct. 7." Leftist leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon denounced "antisemitic racism," though the France Unbowed party he formerly led has faced accusations of antisemitism linked to the Israel-Hamas war. Arié Alimi of the League of Human Rights called for a united front against the far right.

(More France stories.)

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