Jews and Muslims in France are working together to protest the Conseil d'Etat's decision to renew pension payments to Nazi collaborator Maurice Papon.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Conseil Francais de Culte Musulman have sent a joint letter of protest to French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin against the decision, which comes in the wake of Papon's release from jail in September, after a court ruled he was too old and frail to serve out a 10-year sentence for organizing the wartime deportation of Jews to a transit camp on their way to Auschwitz.
Dr. Simon Samuels of the Wiesenthal Center and Dr. Dalil Boubakeur of the Conseil say that in addition, Papon was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Muslims in 1961-62 when he headed the Paris police. These claims are based on media reports and research studies, but have never been substantiated in court.
The letter adds that the decision to renew Papon's pension sends a message to younger generations that punishment for murder can be avoided "by deception and longevity."
Noting all the concessions made toward Papon, Samuels and Boubakeur ask: "What is next? Perhaps he will join the Legion d'Honneur?"