PARIS (AP) — French President Francois Hollande said his country must offers protection and affection to the Jewish community as anti-Semitism is on the rise in France.
“Jews are at home in France, it’s the anti-Semites who have no place in the Republic,” Hollande said in a speech Monday at a prestigious annual dinner of the country’s main Jewish organization.
Many French Jews feel increasingly worried about anti-Semitism, particularly coming from young Muslims who embrace radical ideology propagated online.
France has Europe’s largest Jewish population, about half a million. More than 7,000 emigrated to Israel last year.
Hollande noted that acts against Muslims are also on the rise in France.
About 10,000 soldiers and police forces are protecting synagogues, but also mosques, schools and cultural centers, Hollande said. They will stay mobilized “as long as necessary,” he said.
Earlier Monday, France’s Muslim leaders decided to boycott the dinner, angry over comments by a Jewish leader associating young Muslims with violence.
Roger Cukierman, head of the CRIF Jewish council, was denouncing a growing number of acts against Jews in France. He specified that he was talking about a “very small minority” of Muslims.
The French Muslim Council (CFCM), in a statement denounced Cukierman’s comments as unfounded, including his use of the expression “Islamo-fascism.”
Cukierman explained later that he was specifically thinking of the perpetrators of recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Copenhagen who had “claimed allegiance” to Islam. “Jews and Muslims, we are all in the same boat”, he said.
Leaders of the CFCM have attended the Jewish council event since 2003.
This year’s event comes amid religious tension in France after attacks by Islamic extremists against a kosher market and satirical newspaper.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press