Chirac condemns attack on synagogue set on fire

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The Independent Online

The Middle East conflict has provoked - or provided the cover for - a series of antisemitic attacks in France, including the burning of a synagogue in the southern suburbs of Paris.

The Middle East conflict has provoked - or provided the cover for - a series of antisemitic attacks in France, including the burning of a synagogue in the southern suburbs of Paris.

French politicians and officials have been alarmed by the attacks, which have been anti-Jewish in tone, rather than anti-Israeli. Most appear to be the work of Arab youths sympathetic to the Palestinians; others appear to be the work of the extreme Right.

President Jacques Chirac condemned the incidents - including the burning of a small, makeshift synagogue in the Parisian suburb of Trappes - as "manifestations of intolerance ... which are unacceptable in our democracy." The Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, called for "mutual respect" between the Muslim and Jewish communities in France. He reported to parliament that "anti-semitic words" had been used during a demonstration in Paris at the weekend.

There have been at least four other fire-bomb attacks and slogans painted on walls in the inner suburbs of Paris include: "Bring back the gas chambers." Officials said some of the attacks could be attributed to the far right.

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