Six accused of attacking, torturing Jewish teenager in France

PARIS — Six people kidnapped and tortured a Jewish teenager by punching and kicking him and writing “dirty Jew” on his forehead, judicial officials said Wednesday.

The 19-year-old victim met with his six alleged attackers, who ranged in age from 17 to 28, in the Paris suburb of Bagneux to try to settle an argument about a missing cellphone and camcorder, officials from the prosecutor’s office in Nanterre said. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

They said the six held the victim for about nine hours, taunted him for being Jewish, and said he was gay. They allegedly forced him to eat cigarette butts and scrawled anti-Semitic and anti-homosexual insults on his forehead.

The victim, whose identity has not been released, suffered slight injuries.

The alleged attackers have been detained and investigators filed preliminary charges against them. The preliminary charges include committing “acts of torture or barbarism” and “kidnapping by a gang,” the judicial officials said.

The Bagneux City Hall said in a statement that officials were “shocked and outraged” by the attack. The suburb was the site of a 2006 attack against another young French Jew, Ilan Halimi, who was kidnapped, tortured and killed by a gang.

The president one of France’s leading Jewish organizations, the Representative Council of Jewish Organizations in France, said anti-Semitic attacks in the nation were down 30 per cent last year. But Richard Prasquier said the new attack suggests that “anti-Semitic prejudice is still very present.”

The head of an organization that tallies anti-Semitic crimes in France, the BNVCA, said many recent victims, including the 19-year-old in last month’s attack, were not religious Jews and had little connection with the Jewish community.

“The fact of having a Jewish name was enough for these aggressors to identify him as one, and to harass him,” Sammy Ghozlan said.

France has western Europe’s largest population of Jews and Muslims. The nation faced a surge in anti-Semitic crime starting in 2000 after tensions between Israelis and Palestinians flared up in the Middle East.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday March 6, 2008.
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