French Interior Minister Manuel Valls met with Jewish community leaders in Sarcelles, a northern suburb of Paris, on Saturday following an anti-Semitic attack of a 18-year-old Jewish youth on Friday.
The minister arrived unannounced “Saturday, a little before 11am” to participate in the services of the great synagogue of Sarcelles, said Moshe Cohen-Sabban, the president of the Jewish Community Advisory Board of the Val d’Oise region of France.
According to Cohen-Sabban, the visit followed the attack on the young Jewish boy on Friday night in Sarcelles. He hit by three men who stole his mobile phone and subjected him to anti-Semitic insults in the middle of the street.
Soon afterwards arrested by the police, the three accused were placed on remand awaiting trial in Pontoise, nearby home to the judicial court of the region.
The attack has aroused great concern for the town’s Jewish community. Informed Friday evening of the case being filed, the minister decided to meet with Sarcelle’s Jewish representatives the next morning.
“He came without journalists or cameras,” commented Richard Halimi, president of the Jewish community of Sarcelles. “This attention was especially appreciated by the community coming together for Shabbat services”.
In his speech, the minister expressed “his sympathy for our community”, said Halimi.
He went on to reassure community leaders that he was “beside us in these trying times”.
In discussion with local community leaders, he again expressed his determination to combat anti-Semitic words and actions”, added Cohen-Sabban.
The National Bureau of Vigilance against Anti-Semitism (BNVCA) publicly thanked the minister for his response. The organisation reiterated the presence of “a strong uneasiness” amongst the Jewish community, “instigated by the anti-Semitic murders in Toulouse and the series of subsequent attacks in Villeurbanne and Marseille”.
Often nicknamed the “Little Jerusalem”, Sarcelles, a northern suburb of Paris with 60,000 residents, is home to a vibrant Jewish community, many of whom emigrated from North Africa in the 1960s.