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Hollande promises to combat against antisemitism
By JOSEPH STRICH
07/10/2012
French president promises Jewish leaders "total mobilization" to fight terrorist threats after series of incidents.
 
President François Hollande hosted the leaders of French Jewry on Sunday and promised them an uncompromising fight against anti-Semitism.

On Saturday, French security forces conducted raids on a suspected network of Muslim extremists thought to behind an attack on a Jewish grocery store in the Parisian suburb of Sarcelles on September 19.

The raids, in Paris, Nice, Cannes and Strasbourg, were led by the special anti-terrorist units of the police. In Strasbourg, the prime suspect, Jeremie Louis Sidney, 33, a convert to Islam, opened fire on officers and was shot dead. He had two wives and two children, one of them a new-born baby whom he had come to visit.

The meeting between Hollande and the representatives of the Jewish community took place in his Élysée Palace. After the meeting, the head of state told journalists that he had reaffirmed his “intransigence in fighting against racism and anti-Semitism.

“Nothing can be accepted. Any act, any words, will be punished with the most severe firmness,” Hollande said.

While the meeting was being held, French television reported, witnesses heard what turned out to be blank shots fired toward a synagogue in Argenteuil, a suburb northwest of Paris.

After the meeting, Joel Mergui, president of the the Consistoire of France, told France 2 TV: “We never make confound [Islamists and the Muslim population], but we expect Muslim leaders to again condemn” the Islamist attacks.

Hollande told his guests that “further steps are going to be taken” against Islamists, Mergui said.

France 2 reported that “there is a new profile [of Islamists]; all of them are French, not yet registered [by security services] and already radicalized.”

The questioning of the 11 cell members continued on Sunday and Saturday and they were ordered held in remand for four days, until Wednesday.

During the raid in Strasbourg, investigators found “Islamist literature” and a list of Jewish organizations in the Paris region. Sidney was the leader of the group, and his DNA was found on the grenade thrown at Sarcelles, leading the police to him.

He was already sentenced to jail in 2008. That was before he converted to Islam, stopped drinking alcohol and visited North Africa.

Last Wednesday, he left Cannes, where lives with one of his wives, who is pregnant and has a one-year-old child, after criticizing her Western way of living, and traveled to Strasbourg.

After his meeting with the Jewish leaders, Hollande called the president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), Mohammed Moussaoui, and expressed “his desire to get together on the basis of republican values.”

“The perpetrators of criminal acts can’t be confused with the Muslim population of our country,” the president added.

Richard Prasquier, president of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF), compared Islamism to Nazism, after the meeting in the Élysée Palace.

“Islamism is a monstrous ideology, an ideology of hatred, that one can compare only to a Nazi ideology. To be compassionate to radical Islam means to be compassionate to Nazism,” Prasquier told journalists.

Strasbourg prosecutor Patrick Poirret said Sidney was “very determined with probably the ambition to die a martyr.”

For the end of the Tishrei and Succot, police reinforced their presence around synagogues and other Jewish institutions.
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