French police arrested three teenagers who are suspected of ambushing, attacking and seriously wounding a locksmith because they believed he was Jewish.
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The suspects, all 15, are said to have ordered the services of a locksmith five months ago from a firm whose owners had a Jewish-sounding name, the Paris-based daily Le Figaro reported Sunday. The teens selected the firm after hearing a radio commercial advertising it, a police source said. The newspaper did not name the locksmith firm in question nor the suspects, who are denying the assault charges against them.
When the locksmith showed up at the address given to him over the phone in the eastern Paris suburb of Bussy-Saint-Georges, the teens allegedly beat him, sprayed tear gas in his face and threatened to kill him while at least one of them brandished a knife. The locksmith was not Jewish, according to the report. He required hospitalization after the assault.
One of the suspects reportedly admitted only to ordering the locksmith. Another reportedly admitted to being at the scene of the crime, while the third teen, the only suspect recognized by the victim, denied having any connection to the crime. Detectives found hate speech against Jews in text messages he wrote on his cellphone, according to the report.
The three minors are under arrest at a facility for juvenile delinquents in Meaux, east of Paris.
A total of 808 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in France last year – a 5 percent decrease over the previous year but still the fifth-highest number of incidents recorded since the 1980s and more than double the total for 2011.
On average, France has seen 606 incidents annually since the year 2000, when attacks against Jews over Israel’s actions against the Palestinians first led to a substantial rise in incidents in France.