Anti-Semitic incidents for 2015 decrease in France by 5 percent over previous year

PARIS (JTA) — Anti-Semitic incidents in France decreased by five percent in 2015 over the previous year, while anti-Muslim attacks tripled in volume, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.

In an interview published Tuesday by the French daily La Croix, Cazeneuve said his ministry recorded 806 anti-Semitic incidents last year compared to 851 reported in 2014, and 400 anti-Muslim attacks, which he said had tripled and then stabilized after the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, in which Islamists killed 130 people.

“Christian houses of worship and cemeteries, which are France’s largest group of their kind, were not spared, with 810 attacks – an increase of 20 percent [over 2014],” the paper quoted Cazeneuve as saying. He vowed to track down and punish perpetrators of all hate crimes.

In 2014, SPCJ, the Jewish community’s security service, documented 851 attacks against Jews. And the CFCM, the umbrella group of Islamic organizations in France, recorded 133 incidents that year, consisting of 55 actions and 78 threats.

The National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, a Jewish nonprofit which monitors hate crimes against Jews, was not encouraged by the decrease cited by Cazeneuve, according to its founder, Sammy Ghozlan.

BNVCA “expresses its deep concern regarding the progressive rise of anti-Semitism,” which “contemporary French society is clearly incapable of curbing,” Ghozlan wrote in a statement issued Wednesday.

While noting “developing hatred toward Christians and Muslims,” Ghozlan also wrote that “anti-Jewish crimes remain the most serious and most numerous” in light of the fact that Jews account for less than one percent of the French population. Estimates about the number of Muslims living in France range from 2.1 million to five million.

Ghozlan also noted that, while the Jewish community was targeted by members of other faiths, its members are not known to have committed hate crimes last year.

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