French police opened an investigation Monday after suspected members of an extremist group marched through a Jewish quarter in central Paris shouting anti-Semitic slogans over the weekend.
Shoppers in the historic Marais neighbourhood, one of the busiest districts in the Jewish area of Paris, were left in shock early Sunday evening after a group of extremists terrorized community members with anti-Semitic verbal abuse.
More than 20 men claiming to be members of the Tribu-Ka anti-white group walked up and down the crowded Rue des Rosiers shouting at the families and youths in the area.
The French Office of Vigilance against anti-Semitism (BNCVA) said in a statement the gang was "performing Nazi salutes, looking for a fight with the neighbourhood's Jews, threatening and intimidating them."
"We are in contact with the Interior Ministry and the police department over the matter," the head of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRCIF), Roger Cukierman, said.
"They screamed out 'Death to Jews!'" one witness, who would only give his name as Julien, told EJP.
"They told us they weren't Arabs and that they would 'kosherise' us," said a second witness, Stephan, a fifty-year-old butcher from the Panzer delicatessen.
"I've never been more scared in my life," book-salesman David R. added.
Police quickly broke up the march, running identity checks on 19 people, none of whom were armed. Security has been stepped up in the area. Since they committed no apparent offence, police let the men go.
There has been growing tension between the Jewish community and an extremist fringe of black youth as a result of what many consider to be the provocative attitude of young Jewish members of the right wing Betar and Jewish Defence League groups who try to physically confront anti-Semitism.
Tribu-Ka claims that young Jews attacked a black man during the February demonstration in memory of Ilan Halimi, the young French Jew who was kidnapped and killed by a gang, whose leader and several members were black.
However witnesses and dozens of black people who participated in the demonstration along with the Jewish community have denied this.
Tribu-Ka, an organisation created in December 2004 is opposed to all contacts between blacks and non-blacks.
In February 2005 a dozen young men and women claiming to be part of the Tribu-Ka infiltrated a meeting of the Jewish-black friendship association and vigorously advised the Jews to cease all contacts with their "Khemite brothers".
They also accused the Jews of being the descendants of slave-traders, an accusation repeated by controversial comic Dieudonne Mbala Mbala, who is among those Tribu-Ka view as an inspiration.
Tribu-Ka's leader is Kemi Seba, formerly known as Stellio Gilles Robert, a former member of Nation of Islam in Paris who has previously been indicted for racist incitement.
Since Tribu-Ka was formed, tensions between its members and the Jewish community has been increasing, especially with the members of Betar and the JDL.
Ten days earlier Tribu-Ka penetrated into a sports club used by the JDL and Betar and defied the Jews who were practicing Krav Maga, the Israeli martial art. When the young men answered they weren't part of the Jewish organizations, the thugs told them to tell JDL and Betar that they were looking for them.
When they walked up Rue des Rosiers on Sunday, the Tribu-Ka members said they wanted to confront militants from both groups who are known to be based in the Jewish Marais neighbourhood.
According to witnesses, the Jews failed to reply and forced passers-by into shops.
BNCVA said the gang was armed with sticks and baseball bats - though this was denied both by police and by independent witnesses.
European Jewish Press