France ups security around synagogues after deadly Pittsburgh attack

Macron, Germany’s Merkel condemn shooting that took place during Shabbat morning services; ‘anti-Semitism has no borders,’ French minister warns

Illustrative: Soldiers stand guard outside a synagogue in Neuilly sur Seine, outside Paris, France, January 13, 2015. (AP /Christophe Ena)
Illustrative: Soldiers stand guard outside a synagogue in Neuilly sur Seine, outside Paris, France, January 13, 2015. (AP /Christophe Ena)

PARIS, France — France said it was bolstering security around Jewish houses of worship Saturday, in the wake of a shooting attack that left 11 people dead in a Pittsburgh synagogue.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday said he “strongly condemned the act of anti-Semitism in Pittsburgh.”

The French leader said in a tweet that his thoughts were with the victims and offered his support to the grieving families.

A heavily armed gunman opened fire on Jewish congregants during a circumcision ceremony at the synagogue in the US city earlier in the day, in what appeared to be one of the worst anti-Semitic attacks in American history.

A police officer stands under the rain outside the Tree of Life Synagogue after a shooting there left 11 people dead in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner later said in a tweet that he had told local authorities to “increase vigilance around synagogues” from Sunday.

“Anti-Semitism kills and anti-Semitism has no borders. The terrible attack in Pittsburgh is tragic proof,” the interior minister wrote.

“In Pennsylvania, as in our own country, we remain united against hate,” he added, expressing solidarity with the American people.

France’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 a virulent strain of anti-Semitism in predominantly immigrant neighborhoods.

Illustrative. Police guard a synagogue during a visit by French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, in Marseille, southern France, Thursday, January 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

As in much of Europe, French synagogues and other Jewish community institutions are already heavily guarded and have been attacked in the past. In 2012, a gunman killed four people at a Jewish school in Toulouse and almost three years later, four people were killed at a Paris kosher supermarket.

A man kneels next to flowers laid in honor of the shooting victims outside the Kruttoende cultural center in Copenhagen, Denmark on February 15, 2015. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO / CLAUS BJORN LARSEN)

Denmark and Belgium have also seen deadly attacks on Jewish institutions in recent years.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel denounced the deadly shooting rampage as “blind anti-Semitic hatred.”

“We all have to stand up against anti-Semitism, everywhere,” she said, in a brief statement posted on Twitter by a German government spokesman.

Merkel, who faces a resurgence of anti-Semitism in her own country, said her thoughts were with the victims’ families and expressed the hope that those injured would make a full recovery.

The anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party, which captured nearly 13 percent of the vote in last year’s general election, has broken a taboo by repeatedly challenging Germany’s “remembrance culture” and atonement for the Nazi era.

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