NICE, France — A French judge has dropped hate crime charges against Arab teenagers who allegedly assaulted a Jewish teenager outside a synagogue near Paris, a watchdog group said.
The National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, protested in a statement on Tuesday the omission from the indictment of the suspects in the February 28 assault in Montmagny.
On Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated his intention to combat anti-Semitism in France, which he said was “returning” to society there as evidenced by the proliferation of assaults on Jews and hate speech against them.
“There are hatreds that are rising again, they are the worst kinds of crimes,” Macron said at the annual dinner of the CRIF Jewish umbrella organization.
Jewish groups, including CRIF and BNVCA, have praised the French authorities’ efforts to protect Jews, but also criticized the judiciary’s perceived failure to address the aggravated element of hate crimes in several cases of violence against Jews.
In the Montmagny assault, the alleged attackers, aged 14 and 15, called the Jewish boy, his sister, and brother, “dirty Jews” at the park where they were playing, Le Parisien reported, based on police sources. According to BNVCA, all four suspects are of Arab descent. The boy said the assailants beat him with a stick and took away his kippah, which he was wearing when they approached him.
BNVCA said it was “dismayed” by the judge’s decision, which the group said runs “totally contrary” to the law.
In recent months, BNVCA has also criticized a judge’s initial omission of hate crime charges from the murder trial of a Muslim man who confessed to killing his Jewish neighbor in April while screaming about Allah and calling her a demon. The hate crime charge ultimately was added to the indictment.
A similar exchange occurred after French prosecutors last year dropped hate crime charges in the case of four men suspected of rape and robbery at a suburban Paris home they acknowledged was targeted because it belonged to Jews. Following protests, the aggravated element also was added to their indictment.