© 2016 Religion News Service
PARIS — As France marks the anniversary of the terrorist shootings that targeted a kosher supermarket and a satirical weekly, a new report warns anti-Semitism here continues to rise, taking a myriad of underreported forms.
“Violence targeting Jews and Jewish sites has led to a heightened sense of insecurity, and an increasing number of Jews are relocating in or outside France for security reasons,” U.S. advocacy group Human Rights First wrote in a report published Thursday (Jan. 7).
Citing a mix of reasons behind a rising tide of anti-Semitism, the group wrote, “we see France as a test case for the plight of Jews on the continent, because the pertinent trends there also exist in other European countries.”
The study comes as French citizens commemorate the 17 victims — including four Jews — of last January’s Muslim extremist strikes in Paris, one of two last year. On Thursday, police foiled what appeared to be yet another attempt, shooting dead an armed man wearing a fake suicide vest in the northern part of the city.
The report cites a doubling of anti-Semitic incidents to more than 850 in 2014, compared to 423 the previous year. And more than 7,200 French Jews moved to Israel in 2014, twice as many as the year before.
Jews make up less than 1 percent of French population but account for more than half of the victims of hate crimes.
French Jews have long complained of a steady rise in anti-Semitism in a country still haunted by its World War II past. While the report cites limited data in documenting the incidents — partly due to a ban on collecting official statistics based on race and religion — it suggests supporters of the popular far-right National Front party are more likely to harbor anti-Semitic and racist views.
The study does not include 2015 statistics. A group that defends Jews cited an 84 percent spike in anti-Semitic attacks during the first half of last year. But in November, France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced a slight drop in anti-Semitic acts over the first nine months of 2015.
Meanwhile, the number of anti-Muslim acts nearly tripled last year, with 400 hate crimes recorded, compared to 133 in 2014, according to a government watchdog group.
(Elizabeth Bryant is a Paris-based contributor to RNS)