French police: 3 Jewish teens attacked in city near Lyon

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls calls attack an act “of a very extreme grave nature.”

French ambulance 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier)
French ambulance 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier)
Three Jewish teenagers – a girl and two boys who were wearing kippot – were attacked in the French city of Villeurbanne, near Lyon, on Saturday evening, police announced late Sunday night.
The information about the incident was published only 24 hours after it happened, since the authorities wanted to keep the investigation a secret.
The incident started at 7 p.m., which was still Shabbat in France, when the three Jews were walking near the Bet Menachem school in the city center of Villeurbanne, which is in fact part of the Lyon metropolitan area, and has an important Jewish community, mainly of Sephardic origin.
The teenagers accidentally met a group of young men, who may have been of foreign origin. The two groups exchanged suspicious regards, and before the young men insulted the Jewish teens, using racial slurs. After that, the aggressors, who lived in the area, left, but soon returned, armed with hammers and iron bars.
The young men then beat up the Jewish teens, leaving one of the boys with an open wound on his skull, and the girl with a neck injury.
There were no cameras in the area and the police decided to put more men there after the incident.
The three victims were hospitalized in the Tonkin clinic of Villeurbanne before being sent home.
French Interior Minister Manuel Valls published a leaflet against these acts “of a very extreme grave nature,” which constitute, according to him, “a deliberate attack against the [French] Republic.”
They were perpetrated “against our republican model, which allows everyone, without any distinguishing mark, to live freely and in total security, regardless of religious affiliation,” said the minister.
Marcel Amsellem, the president of the umbrella organization of French Jewry, denounced in a statement the “climate of animosity and stigmatization of the State of Israel leading to hatred and unacceptable acts.”
Lyon’s mayor, Socialist Party politician Gerard Collomb, also spoke of “unacceptable aggression that shows anti–Semitic behavior that we cannot tolerate in the Lyon region, where for years we have been working in cooperation with religious and community leaders so that all can live in coexistence and solidarity.”
Alain Jaqubovitz, the chairman of the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism, said, “We are in the 20th century, yet young people have been attacked because they wore kippot.”
Johan Sportouch, the secretary- general of the Union of Jewish Students, said he “was concerned by the resurgence of anti-Semitic acts in France” “Jewish citizens are a recurring target. Since the Toulouse affair, one can no longer underestimate the seriousness of anti-Semitic aggression,” he continued. In Villeurbanne and the Lyon region, news of the attack spread quickly and caused indignation in the Jewish community, local newspapers reported.