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France Investigates as Dozens of Star of David Symbols Deface Buildings to Intimidate Jewish Citizens

TOPSHOT – A man enters a building whose facade is covered with Stars of David painted during the night, in the Alesia district of Paris, on October 31, 2023. (Photo by Geoffroy Van der Hasselt / AFP)

Paris prosecutors opened an investigation on Tuesday, October 31, into ‘some 60′ Stars of David daubed on buildings in the 14th arrondissement of the capital, seen as threatening Jews amid the war between Israel and Hamas. The investigation for “damage to other people’s property aggravated by the fact that it was committed on the grounds of origin, race, ethnicity or religion” has been entrusted to the Paris territorial police, the prosecutor’s office said. This offense carries a maximum penalty of four years’ imprisonment and a fine of €30,000.

The prosecutor’s office said it did not know “whether these tags were intended to insult the Jewish people or to claim Jewish membership, particularly as they involved the blue star (not the yellow one).” “These stencils were marked on facades, in a way that was manifestly indifferent to what the buildings housed,” says the public prosecutor. It has therefore not been established that this star has an anti-Semitic connotation, but this cannot be dismissed out of hand.”

Earlier in the morning, the 14th arrondissement town hall had revealed that it had received “several reports of stars of David stenciled on numerous walls”. “This act of stenciling is reminiscent of the methods used in the 1930s and the Second World War, which led to the extermination of millions of Jews,” wrote the municipality in a press release, denouncing “antisemitic acts”. “Antisemitism plastered on our streets as in the darkest hours”, also commented Carine Petit, the borough’s mayor.

Similar tags appeared last weekend in Paris suburbs including Vanves and Fontenay-aux-Roses (Hauts-de-Seine), as well as in Aubervilliers and Saint-Ouen (Seine-Saint-Denis), where stencils were accompanied by inscriptions such as “From the sea to the Jordan, Palestine will overcome”.

“I firmly condemn these racist and antisemitic acts. The culprits must be arrested and judged with the utmost severity”, reacted the mayor of Saint-Ouen, Karim Bouamrane, on Monday. “Antisemitism is a crime”, reiterated Aubervilliers Mayor Karine Franclet, who condemned the graffiti as “despicable acts.”

“On behalf of the government, I condemn these despicable acts with absolute firmness,” reacted Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne at the French Assemblée Nationale on Tuesday. She said that “to attack someone because they are Jewish (…) is to attack the very soul of the Republic”. “It is the duty of the Republic to protect all the Jews of France”, she insisted, asserting that “all those guilty of these acts must be questioned and condemned” and that “nothing can be tolerated, justified or excused.”

Since the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, 2,500 reports of antisemitic acts have been registered in France, according to the French Ministry of the Interior. On Sunday, the French Minister of Justice Eric Dupond-Moretti, reported more than 400 arrests for “antisemitic acts.”

Source: https://www.lemonde.fr/en/france/article/2023/10/31/paris-prosecutor-opens-investigation-after-stars-of-david-found-tagged-on-buildings_6216629_7.html