Man stabs Jewish teenager in anti-Semitic attack
PARIS - French President Jacques Chirac condemned the stabbing Friday of a Jewish teenager in Paris. In a statement issued by his office, he said that tolerance was the basis for France's national unity.
A man reportedly crying "God is great" stabbed 17-year-old Yisrael Yifrah in the thorax on Friday, seriously injuring the victim, officials said.
Israel Radio on Saturday quoted a spokesman for the Representative Council of the Jewish Organizations (CRIF) as saying that the teenager's wounds were not life-threatening.
Yifrah was attacked about 4 P.M. as he left a Jewish school in Epinay-sur-Seine, north of Paris in the rough Seine-Saint-Denis district, officials of the local prefecture said.
The victim was transferred to a hospital and the attacker fled the scene. Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin visited the site where the attack occurred.
Witnesses said a man shouted "God is great" then plunged a knife into him before fleeing.
According to a French TV station, the stabber was a Muslim of north African or Pakistani origin, the radio said.
CRIF said that the attack was an escalation of anti-Jewish violence and called on French authorities to act quickly to apprehend the stabber.
Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin denounced the attack, saying he shares "the legitimate indignation of the Jews of France against this barbarous act which touches our entire national community."
Anti-Semitic attacks have been on the rise in France despite a series of measures put in place to counter them. However, physical assaults are less common than attacks on Jewish sites, from synagogues to schools, and desecration of Jewish cemeteries.
The Interior Ministry has reported 67 anti-Semitic acts in the first quarter of 2004, a 60-percent increase from the same period a year earlier.
Young Muslims have been blamed for many of the attacks which, over the past few years, have coincided with rising tension in the Middle East.
However, Muslims have also been victims of racist attacks. In March, an arson fire damaged a mosque and destroyed a Muslim prayer hall in Annecy, in southeast France.