Vigilance call after French Jews hit by new attacks

Jews gather beneath photos of the victims of the massacre at the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse, 25 March Three children and a teacher were shot dead at a Jewish school in Toulouse

There has been a call for vigilance in France after an assault on a Jewish boy, the latest anti-Semitic incident reported since the Toulouse murders.

Teenagers punched the boy, 12, in the back of the head and beat him, calling him a "dirty Jew" in the attack near a Jewish school in south-eastern Paris.

Jean-Paul Amoyelle, head of the Ozar Hatorah network of Jewish schools in France, said he feared further attacks.

The Jewish school attacked in Toulouse has reportedly received hate mail.

The French authorities are investigating after anti-Semitic emails were sent to the school after the massacre on 19 March, when Islamist gunman Mohamed Merah shot dead three small children and a teacher, as well as seriously wounding a schoolboy.

Marc Sztulman, head of a local Jewish representative group, said the school's email system had received a large number of messages "calling for the murder of Jews or drawing a tenuous link with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict".

Some messages were reportedly signed "real French people", suggesting the work of extreme nationalists rather than Islamists.

'Hostile reaction'

In the attack in Paris, the schoolboy did not suffer serious injuries.

He was set upon out of sight of the Ozar Hatorah school he attends, meaning police guarding the school could not see the assault happening.

School human resources director Katia Normal said the attackers were two boys a couple of years older than the victim, and that they had chanted anti-Semitic slogans.

Speaking to the Associated Press news agency, Mr Amoyelle said: "There was a feeling of solidarity for our schools after this drama [in Toulouse].

"Now I fear that this has provoked a hostile reaction, shown by the attitude of these boys who called him dirty Jew and beat him up.

"We have to be vigilant, because this could lead to more aggression."

Other apparently anti-Semitic incidents have been reported in France since the Merah attacks

  • Five bullet-holes were found in a window of the Yitzhak-Rabin music school in Sarcelles, Paris, apparently aimed at a poster advertising a rally outside a synagogue
  • A night club owner in Dijon reported receiving death threats and a demand for money by email from someone claiming to be from al-Qaeda and referring to the Merah killings
  • Three teenage boys reportedly wrote pro-Merah graffiti on an information board opposite the great synagogue in Toulouse
  • Obscene anti-Semitic graffiti was found on a wall in Sartrouville in the Paris area

In the southern city of Nice, at least 31 Jewish graves were found desecrated on Friday, with metal Stars of David either torn off or twisted.

The vandalism occurred some time after 13 March, when the cemetery was last inspected.

Listing the incidents on the French Jewish blog JSS News, Deborah Coen asked if French Jews might not feel safer living in Israel.

'Algerian grave'

Mohamed Merah was shot dead by police as he fired on them while under siege in his flat in Toulouse.

His elder brother Abdelkader remains in custody on preliminary charges of complicity, which he denies.

Police are seeking to establish who posted video of the attacks to the Paris bureau of the satellite TV channel al-Jazeera, which decided not to broadcast the material.

An unnamed official quoted by AP said an unspecified technical analysis had concluded that the video was not sent by Mohamed Merah.

Police are also investigating who edited the video which, apart from footage filmed by Merah himself during his attacks, contains Koranic verses and other material.

Mohamed Benalel Merah, the gunman's father, has said he wants to bury his son in Algeria.

The family wished "to avoid the grave being desecrated in France", Mohamed Merah's maternal uncle, Djamel Aziri, told AFP news agency.

An unnamed member of the family told AFP it expected the body to arrive in Algiers on an Air Algeria flight from Toulouse on Thursday.

However, the Algerian authorities have yet to agree to Merah being buried in the country, said Abdellatif Mellouki, head of a Muslim faith council in southern France.

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