• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Kosher store attack
France's Jews live in fear despite all the soldiers
A message left at the site of the Hyper Cacher attack one year on. Photo: The Local

France's Jews live in fear despite all the soldiers

Ben McPartland · 9 Jan 2016, 08:42

Published: 09 Jan 2016 08:42 GMT+01:00
Updated: 09 Jan 2016 08:42 GMT+01:00

On the afternoon of January 9th 2015 as the attention of France, and indeed most of the world, was focused on the stand-off between the Charlie Hebdo gunmen and police at a printworks north of Paris, Amedy Coulibaly calmly walked into a Jewish supermarket in Paris and opened fire with his Kalashnikov.
 
Three people died instantly in Coulibaly's rampage in the Hyper Cacher at Porte de Vincennes.
 
The gunman claimed a fourth victim later that Friday afternoon after one of his hostages had seized his gun but was unable to fire it.
 
Coulibaly was eventually killed by police before he could claim more lives, but the attack left France's Jewish community traumatised and not for the first time.
 
One year on, many still live in fear, despite thousands of soldiers having been deployed to offer almost round the clock protection to schools, shops and synagogues in a bid to reassure the community.
 
"The threat against Jewish people is everywhere but it feels worse in France," Sandy, who was on her way to the Hyper Cacher told The Local. "We know now we can be targeted at school or when we go shopping."
 
Johann Dorai, who hid from Coulibaly with other hostages in the store's freezer, told The Local: "We just don't feel safe now. We can't just go out like before and go back to normal."
 
 
 
Coulibaly's attack on supermarket shoppers came just three years after Mohamed Merah killed a rabbi and three Jewish children at point blank range outside their school in Toulouse.
 
Jean-Jacques, who runs the Jewish bakery next door to the supermarket, has found life has changed for the worse since that horrific afternoon when they were forced to throw themselves on the floor behind the counter as Coulibaly opened fire just metres away.
 
"We heard the shots and people shouting," he told The Local. "We got down on the floor and just waited. We stayed there for three to four hours. We knew people had been killed next door."
 
"It's been difficult to carry on, because we live in fear everyday that the same thing could happen again," he told The Local.
 
"When we look at customers now, we are more suspicious. If they are carrying backpacks, we might suspect them. It never used to be like that."
 
"I grew up with Muslims and there was never a problem about being Jewish. Now we feel the differences between people."
 
According to French government statistics, anti-Semitic acts have soared in recent years, with the number reported between January and May 2015 increasing 84 percent compared with the same period in 2014.
 
Anger towards Israel and its policy towards Palestinians occasionally tips over into indiscriminate anti-Jewish hatred.
 


In July 2014 pro-Palestinian marches turned violent in Paris, with looters destroying Jewish businesses and some rioters attempting to attack synagogues.

The growing insecurity has also pushed many to make "aliyah" and emigrate to Israel, with record departures in 2015 of 7,900 people, according to official figures. Although there are numerous reasons, more than just security fears, to explain the exodus.
 
Jean-Jacques laments that perhaps secular France simply has little love for its 500,000 strong Jewish population.
 
There is a feeling among his community that the Jewish victims of last year's attacks are forgotten behind the other events that occurred during those three days of bloodshed.
 
They point to the fact the January terrorist shootings are often simply referred to as the "Charlie Hebdo attacks" and the popular narrative of the bloodshed is that freedom of speech and the principle of secularism were the only targets rather than the country's Jewish community.
 
Story continues below…
"If it had only been the kosher store targeted, there would never have been that march on January 11th," said Jean-Jacques.
 
Sevrine, the wife of Johann Dorai, who hid from Coulibaly in the cold room of the supermarket said: "What happened at Charlie Hebdo was obviously very significant, but everyone speaks about it and no one speaks about the Hyper Cacher."
 
The French government however has tried, perhaps in vain, to reassure its Jewish population with words and actions.
 
"France, without its Jews is not France," said PM Manuel Valls while President François Hollande will attend a memorial service at the Hyper Cacher store on Saturday to mark the anniversary.
 
Both leaders have repeatedly said that the place for French Jews is at home in France.

To reassure the community, 700 soldiers have been deployed to patrol outside synagogues, schools and community centres.
 
But not many are convinced they would be effective in sparing lives if radicalised Islamist jihadists strike again.
 
"If someone wants to die they don't care if there are 50 soldiers in front of them," said Jean-Jacques.
 
"I hope it will get better but I don't believe it will. After what happened in November we can see that everyone is now a target not just Jewish people.

"All we can do is try not to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. And that's hard."

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Today's headlines
What's the story behind French Neighbours' Day?
Families get together in the northern suburbs of Paris on Neighbour's Day. Photo: AFP

French soldier knifed by men 'angry over Syria bombings'
Photo: AFP

A French soldier is in a serious condition after being attacked by two men whose motive for the attack appeared to be France's military intervention in Syria.

Opinion - Strikes in France
France is heading into a 'summer of discontent'
Photo: AFP

This isn’t 1970s Britain but France in 2016.

'Don't worry, France is far from running out of fuel'
Image: Essence smartphone app

French petroleum industry chiefs try to calm fears but trade unions have called for protests and strikes to be stepped up.

French petrol prices rise as companies profit from crisis

French petrol companies are taking advantage of the fuel crisis by putting up the prices of fuel.

Interactive map: Where to find petrol in France
Photo: L'essence

This interactive map should help you find petrol in France.

Mass brawl at Calais migrant camp leaves 20 injured
Photo: AFP

A huge brawl in the Calais migrant camp leaves 20 people injured, including volunteers.

French fuel crisis latest: 5,100 petrol stations run dry
Photo: AFP

UPDATED: Some 40 percent of petrol stations have run dry in France.

Masked youths clash with police in Paris protest
Police and protesters also clashed in Paris last week. Photo: AFP

Labour protests in Paris have turned violent, again.

A complete guide to France's (many) ongoing strikes
All photos: AFP

A rundown of all the strikes in France today and in the coming days and weeks. Good luck.

National
It's Neighbours' Day! But what does it all mean?
Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
National
The French fuel crisis for dummies: 27 key questions
National
The trials and tribulations of moving to rural France
National
Five free smartphone apps to help you find petrol in France
National
A complete guide to France's (many) ongoing strikes
Culture
Paris: Street artist makes the Louvre pyramid disappear
Interactive map: Where to find petrol in France
Who is the French union in a 'fight to the death' with the government?
Society
Opinion: Why the French are absolutely right to go on strike
National
Here's why both sides despise France's labour reforms
National
Who is really to blame for the fuel crisis in France?
How to avoid running out of fuel if you're coming to France
National
Here are the parts of France hardest hit by the fuel shortages
Travel
It will soon be time to say 'au revoir' to the Paris Metro ticket
Culture
Revealed: The ultimate sex map of France
National
Migrants at Calais camp given dignity in death
International
How good is security at Charles de Gaulle airport?
Culture
How to make a traditional French cassoulet
Culture
IN PICS: Commuter trains in Paris get royal makeover
International
Terror attack 'likeliest cause' of missing EgyptAir plane
International
Who was on board the missing EgyptAir flight from Paris?
Lifestyle
New map reveals Paris flat prices by Metro station
Culture
Paris: Here's how to find French cinema in English
2,735
jobs available