French teens arrested over blast near teacher who received anti-Semitic threats
Arrests came within week of report that another teacher, who is undergoing a conversion, lost her job after reporting repeated anti-Semitic harassment by her pupils.
Two French teenagers were arrested on suspicion of setting off an explosion near a teacher after she reported receiving anti-Semitic threats at school.
The teenagers, 16 and 19 years old, were arrested on December 13 in Aix-en-Provence near Marseille in southern France for allegedly setting off a chemical explosion in the classroom of their plastic arts teacher, according to France Info, a public radio station. No one was hurt in the explosion.
The teacher, Chantal Viroulou, told the radio station that before the incident, “students from that class, two or three of them at least, called me and told me: ‘Jew, we will break your face.’” Viroulou, who teaches at the Latecoere professional high school in the town of Istres, did not say whether she was Jewish.
An unnamed police source told Ouest France, a local daily, that Viroulou is not Jewish and that “the anti-Semitic connotation” is not being investigated. The source added that the explosion – which the two suspects allegedly caused by mixing hydrochloric acid with aluminum – “had nothing to do” with the threat.
Earlier this week, the news site Lyonmag reported that a teacher undergoing conversion was fired after she reported repeated anti-Semitic harassment by her pupils at Condorcet secondary school in Saint-Priest, a southern suburb of Lyon.
The International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism, a French nonprofit, wrote on December 13 to France’s minister of education to ask him to launch a special action against “the development of anti-Semitic acts and behavior” in French schools.