Hundreds of prominent French figures signed a manifesto demanding a national fight against anti-Semitism in the European nation.
More than 250 major French personalities including politicians and actors have signed a manifesto denouncing a “new anti-Semitism” in France marked by “Islamist radicalisation” after a string of murders of Jews. The text was published on Sunday in several newspapers.
“We demand that the fight against this democratic failure that is anti-Semitism becomes a national cause before it’s too late. Before France is no longer France,” reads the manifesto co-signed by several politicians from the left and right including ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy, former Prime Minister Manuel Valls and also celebrities like actor Gerard Depardieu and singer Charles Aznavour.
The signatories condemn what they called a “quiet ethnic purging” driven by rising Islamist radicalism particularly in working-class neighborhoods. They also accused the media of remaining silent on the matter.
The country’s half-a-million-plus Jewish community is the largest in Europe but has been hit by a wave of emigration to Israel in the past two decades, partly due to the emergence of virulent anti-Semitism in predominantly immigrant neighborhoods.
“In our recent history, 11 Jews have been assassinated – and some tortured – by radical Islamists because they were Jewish,’’ they say.
“French Jews are 25 times more at risk of being attacked than their fellow Muslim citizens,” adds the manifesto.
It notes that some 50,000 Jews had been “forced to move because they were no longer in safety in certain cities and because their children could no longer go to school.”
The murders referenced include the barbaric killing of Ilan Halimi in 2006, as well as the deadly shooting of three schoolchildren and a teacher at a Jewish school by Islamist gunman Mohammed Merah in the city of Toulouse in 2012.
Three years later, in 2015, an associate of the two brothers who massacred a group of cartoonists at satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo killed four people in a hostage-taking at a kosher supermarket in Paris.
In April 2017, a Jewish woman in her sixties, Sarah Halimi, was thrown out of the window of her Paris flat by a neighbor shouting “Allahu Akhbar” (God is greatest).
The latest attack to rock France took place last month when two perpetrators stabbed 85-year-old Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll eleven times, before setting her body on fire.
Her brutal death sent shockwaves through France and prompted 30,000 people to join a march in her memory.
Condemning the “dreadful” killing, President Emmanuel Macron reiterated his determination to fight anti-Semitism.