A man has been sentenced by a French court for verbally abusing soldiers standing on guard outside a synagogue in the south-western town of Bordeaux with antisemitic abuse. The incident occurred last Friday. Soldiers on guard outside the synagogue on rue du Grand-Rabbin-Joseph-Cohen were approached by a man on a bicycle. He approached the soldiers shouting antisemitic slurs as well as threats of death, before fleeing the scene.
Identified by the police from security camera footage, the man was taken into custody over the weekend and made his first court appearance on Tuesday. Recently-published data showed that in 2020, the number of violent antisemitic assaults on Jews in France remained consistent despite the restrictions on movement imposed by COVID-19 lockdowns.
According to annual data compiled by SPCJ, the French Jewish community’s voluntary security agency, “the number of violent attacks recorded — 44 — remained almost identical to the year 2019 — 45 — despite the three and a half months of confinement and the decrease in community activities.” However, the overall number of antisemitic acts recorded in 2020 was down by more than half, the SPCJ noted.
A total of 339 antisemitic incidents were recorded, compared with 687 in 2019 and 541 in 2018. The SPCJ report emphasized that data gathered in 2020 should be understood in the context of increased levels of antisemitism in France over the past two decades. According to the SPCJ, France has averaged 600 antisemitic incidents annually since 2000.