“You are rigorous, well-organised, diligent…and if possible, not a Jew.”
That was part of a French job advert’s description of the ideal candidate for a graphic designer post in Paris.
The advert, which was posted on specialist site Graphic-Jobs.com by NSL Studio on Monday, was withdrawn within minutes but sparked widespread condemnation in France.
Anti-Semitic attacks are reportedly on the rise in the country and fears peaked after an associate of the Charlie Hebdo gunmen, Amedy Coulibaly, deliberately targeted Jews at a Kosher grocery in his murderous rampage.
The job advert is the latest incident in what campaigners say is proof of rising anti-Jewish sentiment in the country.
French anti-racism group SOS Racisme says it is taking legal action over the posting, announcing on Twitter that a complaint had been filed with the public prosecutor.
It is illegal under French anti-discrimination laws to refer to candidates’ faith, gender, age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, nationality, marital status or political opinion in job adverts.
Alexandre-M Braun, a lawyer for SOS Racisme, told the BBC the advert reduced people to their religious affiliation.
“Such and such cannot work with me because he is a Jew,” he said. “It is Jews who are being described as undesirable”.
Graphic-Jobs.com said the advert was taken down within 35 minutes when staff were alerted, offering its “deepest apologies”.
A statement said: “Following the job advert posted yesterday, we strongly condemn the nature of the content published by agency NSL Studio. It is in stark contrast with the values we stand for.
“We have a team of moderators who read, check and validate more than 300 ads every day…this sadly slipped through the controls.”
The website said its lawyers were investigating legal action and that it would endeavour to strengthen controls on the job adverts it hosts.
NSL Studio also distanced itself from the scandal, claiming in a tweet that the “no Jews” paragraph was the result of a “hack”.
The media company’s website was completely empty today apart from a statement on the controversy, which has dominated social media in France.
NSL Studio denied having anything to do with the anti-Semitic part of the post, saying it had also filed a complaint with Paris’ public prosecutor to trace who was responsible.
“NSL Studio is an inclusive agency that does not discriminate,” the statement added.
Tweets from its official account claimed the post was “obviously not our announcement but a hack”, saying its employees would never write such a discriminatory message.
But when the company was contacted on Monday by French news website Les Inrocks, an employee was quoted as saying that the demands of the job being advertised and long working hours meant the candidate should not be someone not restricted by “cultural or religious concerns”, Le Parisien reported.
NSL Studio managers later dismissed the employee’s comments but promised disciplinary action if an investigation ascertained that the offending paragraph had been written by someone inside the company.