PARIS – A wave of anti-Semitic violent incidents in the Albert Camus neighborhood in Paris' 10th quarter has shaken the lives of the suburb's Jewish residents, who are becoming increasingly concerned for their safety.
In the last three weeks, four incidents of anti-Semitic nature were registered in the area. The first took place at the beginning of the month, when a group of about 15 youths forced Jewish teens to leave a local playground, claiming this was "Palestinian territory."
Several days later, two Jewish teens were assaulted while walking down the street. A local resident said that the assailants must have known the young men were Jewish. "This is a small neighborhood, everybody knows everybody and we all know who prays for which God."
On November 17, a Jewish teen was beaten during a football match and called, "a dirty Jew." On the following day, another Jewish teen was attacked.
The social housing neighborhood is mainly populated by emigrants from Africa and the Maghreb, and tensions between some of them and the local Jews are running high. Last week, eight-year-olds cursed one of their Jewish classmates, calling him "a stinking Jew."
"We are quite desperate," a Jewish resident said. "We are sick and tired of worrying when our kids go to school or go down to play in the yard. We are not asking for special or preferential treatment, only to live our lives in peace.
"We live in the heart of Paris. Where else cam we go to feel safe?"
Special police patrolsThe neighborhood had already experienced a tragedy linked to racial tensions four years ago, when a Muslim resident of the area murdered a Jewish resident, 23-year-old Sebastian Selam. "Mom, I have killed my Jew and I'm going to heaven," the killer told his mother after he committed the crime.
The man was found unfit to stand trial for psychological reasons.
Since last week, a special police unit has been assigned to patrol the neighborhood every several hours.
Ariel Goldman, vice president of the French Jewish umbrella group CRIF, said that the organization intended to address the situation. "We are worried about the incidents and are doing the utmost to stay in touch with the proper authorities in order to get a better idea of what's going on.
"We want to allay tensions in the area, and help the Jews who live there and are the victims of these attacks."