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French hamlet 'Death to Jews' mulls name change

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French hamlet 'Death to Jews' mulls name change
The tiny hamlet of "Mort aux Juifs", may consider changing its controversial name. Photo: Google streetview
16:16 CEST+02:00
French authorities will next month consider changing the name of a tiny hamlet near Paris which is officially known as La-Mort-aux-Juifs ("Death to Jews") after a top Jewish group protested.

"We will look at this problem right at the beginning of September" to find "a new name for the hamlet," Serge Montagne, a senior official from the village of Courtemaux, which has jurisdiction over the hamlet, told AFP on Wednesday.

Montagne explained that the name, which dates back at least as far as the Middle Ages, is still on the official cadastral list, although the tiny hamlet of one farm and two houses has been known as "Route de Louzouer" on the postal register since 1992.

A possible name change will be on the agenda of the next municipal council meeting, said Paul Laville, a town hall official at Montargis, the closest large town.

The hamlet shot to prominence after the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, a renowned Jewish rights group, complained on Tuesday to Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve about the name.

"It is extremely shocking that this name has slipped under the radar in the 70 years that have passed since France was liberated from Nazism and the (pro-Nazi) Vichy regime," wrote the group's director of international affairs, Shimon Samuels.

But on Tuesday, the deputy mayor of Courtemaux (population 289) dismissed the concerns as "ridiculous."

"Why change a name that goes back to the Middle Ages or even further? We should respect these old names," Marie-Elizabeth Secretand told AFP.

In 1992, an anti-racism organisation lobbied the interior minister and the authorities at the time in vain to get the name changed.

In May, residents of a town in Spain with a similar name, Castrillo Matajudios ("Castrillo Kill Jews"), did vote to change the name.

They voted 29-19 in favour of scrapping the northern Spanish town's name, in existence since at least 1623, opting for the less offensive, older name, Mota de Judios, or "Hill of the Jews".

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