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Synagogue set afire in France

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October 14, 2000 


PARIS, OCT 13 (AP) - A synagogue in a working-class Paris suburb was set afire before dawn Friday, the latest in a series of some two dozen anti-Semitic attacks in France coinciding with the crisis in the Middle East.

Incendiary devices were lobbed into the synagogue in Bondy, northeast of Paris, shortly after midnight, police said. The blaze destroyed a limited area of the edifice but caused no injuries.

Synagogues and some Jewish schools around Paris, Lyon and one near Toulon, the Mediterranean port city, have been the objects of attacks since Oct. 1.

In an effort to deter further attacks, the Justice Ministry said Friday that it was advising all French prosecutors to deal severely and firmly with anyone suspected of taking part in such attacks.

Prime Minister Lionel Jospin called for a return to "calm and reason" on Thursday and said the government would take additional security measures to protect the nation's synagogues.

"We will take the strongest possible stance against those who commit acts of violence or spread racist or anti-Semitic slogans," Jospin said in the southwest city of Biarritz, where a European Union summit opened Friday.

In other incidents, a Jewish school in Saint-Ouen, just north of Paris, was targeted by Molotov cocktails Thursday.

Officials of another Jewish school, in a working class district of Paris, said Thursday they were filing a complaint for aggression after objects were thrown and anti-Semitic insults shouted at students as they left school Wednesday, French radio reported.

In Marseille on Thursday, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders called for calm.

"Confrontation here does nothing to help solve the problem of peace there" in the Middle East, Muslim Imam Bachir Dahmani told a gathering of the faiths in Marseille.

Scores of people, mainly Palestinians, have been killed in clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, with the confrontation escalating Thursday when a mob killed Israeli troops and Israel retaliated with rocket attacks on Palestinian installations.


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