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RELIGION

Jewish youths targeted in anti-Semitic attack

Three French Jewish youths were attacked by assailants carrying hammers and iron bars in Lyon on Sunday in what the interior minister has described as an "extremely serious" anti-semitic attack.

The attack happened around 6.30 pm as the three victims, all of them wearing Jewish skullcaps, or yarmulkes, left a Jewish school, police said.

A group of people jostled and insulted the three, then about 10 other assailants armed with hammers and bars joined in, striking the victims.

One youth had an open wound to the head and a girl was struck in the neck, authorities said. The third was hit in the arm.

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls, denouncing the assault, said he was “determined to fight against any aggression of a religious nature.

“These extremely serious acts are a deliberate attack against our republic, which allows everyone, without exception, to live freely and in all safety in their religious affiliation,” his office said in a statement.

The victims were hospitalised but later released as police stepped up patrols in the neighbourhood.

The National Bureau of Vigilance against Anti-Semitism said the attackers were of North African origin.

Investigations were under way and no suspects had been arrested.

“We are in the 21st century and there are youngsters assaulting those wearing Jewish skull caps with hammers and bars,” lawyer Alain Jakubowicz of French civil liberties group Licra said.

Lyon is located about 470 kilometres south of Paris. The Jewish community there is about 20,000 strong.

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POLITICS

French minster orders closure of Cannes mosque over anti-Semitic remarks

France's interior minister said on Wednesday he had ordered the closure of a mosque on the French Riviera because of anti-Semitic remarks made there.

The French riviera town of Cannes
The French riviera town of Cannes. Photo: Joel Saget/AFP

Gerald Darmanin said the mosque in the seaside city of Cannes was also guilty of supporting CCIF and BarakaCity, two associations that the government dissolved at the end of last year for spreading “Islamist” propaganda.

Darmanin told broadcaster CNews that he had consulted with the mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard, before shutting down the mosque.

The move comes two weeks after authorities closed a mosque in the north of the country because of what they said was the radical nature of its imam’s preaching.

The mosque in Beauvais, a town of 50,000 people some 100 kilometres north of Paris, was shut for six months because the sermons there incited hatred and violence and “defend jihad”, authorities said.

Last October, a mosque in Allonnes, 200 kilometres west of Paris, was closed also for six months for sermons defending armed jihad and “terrorism”, according to regional authorities.

The French government announced last year that it would step up checks of places of worship and associations suspected of spreading radical Islamic propaganda.

The crackdown came after the October 2020 murder of teacher Samuel Paty, who was targeted following an online campaign against him for having shown controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo during a civics class.

In the interview on Wednesday, the interior minister said that 70 mosques in France were considered to be “radicalised”.

According to the ministry, there are a total of 2,623 mosques and Muslim prayer halls in the country.

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