A Jewish young man reported being assaulted Tuesday near Paris by three men who hit him and called him a “dirty Jew.”
The incident occurred in Montreuil, an eastern suburb of Paris, according to a report published Thursday by the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism — a French watchdog group known locally by the initials BNVCA.
The alleged victim, identified as 18-year-old Ruben Am, said he had been approached by a tall, African man near Montreuil’s Robespierre metro station, who asked him for a lighter. Then the man asked Am about his religion.
Feeling threatened, Am said he was a Moroccan Muslim. But his interlocutor reportedly punched him in the face, saying he could not be Muslim as he attended the Daniel Mayer Jewish vocational school.
He also called Am a “dirty Jew,” according to the report, and was joined by two other men, also African, who covered their faces with their hoodies. The three then fled the scene. The victim sustained several cuts to his face from the hits, BNVCA President Sammy Ghozlan wrote.
Also on Tuesday, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called on French Jews to stay in France, where he vowed authorities will protect them from anti-Semitic attacks.
“The fears are present, how can we deny them,” Valls said on Tuesday during a speech in honor of the Jewish New Year which he gave to several hundred people at the Synagogue of Nazareth in Paris.
“No one will condemn those who leave for Israel but they belong here,” he added.
French Jews have moved to Israel in increasing numbers recently amid an uptick in anti-Semitic incidents, including a deadly attack in a kosher supermarket by an Islamist gunman that left four shoppers dead. In 2014, nearly 7,000 French Jews left for Israel, or made aliyah – more than three times the number in 2011.
Valls, whose wife is Jewish and for whom this is the fourth consecutive Rosh Hashanah address before members of the Jewish community, added: “We will not tolerate any word, any act, against this inalienable right to practice their faith, or not to,” said Valls, who warned that “without Jews, France will lose its essence.”
Also on Tuesday, former prime minister Alain Juppe, of the center-right UMP party, attended a dinner organized for 800 people by the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions umbrella of French Jewish communities.
In Britain, two suspects were arrested Thursday for an attack on four Jewish youths last week in Manchester that left one victim with serious injuries, including brain bleeding.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.