Tempers are reaching boiling point in the French Jewish community after the torture and murder of a young Jewish man by a suburban gang calling itself “the barbarians”.
Police had said that the gang kidnapped Ilan Halimi, 23 using a beautiful, young, blonde woman as bait to extort money from his family. However, the victim’s family and many other Parisian Jews are convinced the crime was, at least partially, racially motivated.
A Parisian member of parliament, Claude Goasguen, said yesterday the city could face “extremely serious intra-community violence” unless the authorities abandoned their “persistent silence on the real motives for this murder”.
At the weekend, a mainly peaceful protest march by Parisian Jews was marred by a number of violent actions by radical young Jewish men. A black man was beaten up, allegedly for “smiling” at the protest. An Arab-run grocery was attacked. A motorist who was caught up in the march was assaulted and had to be rescued by demonstration marshals.
Tracts were handed out by Jewish radical groups which claimed that Ilan Halimi, a mobile telephone salesman, was a victim of “Islamo-fascism”.
Which only goes to show that there are extremists and thugs within every ethno-religious community. However, in this case, I rather doubt that “clash of civilisations” rhetoric will be wheeled out to explain the actions of an unrepresentative minority of demonstrators or that liberal and right-wing commentators will produce articles asserting that Judaism is incompatible with western values. Islamophobia is so much more acceptable than anti-semitism.