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Anti-Jewish attacks prompt heightened security in France
Sun Mar 31, 1:19 PM ET
PARIS - A gunman opened fire on a kosher butcher's shop in southern France — the fourth anti-Semitic attack over the weekend — drawing pledges for increased security at Jewish sites and appeals for religious tolerance.
French President Jacques Chirac added his voice to the growing condemnation of the violence, calling it "unspeakable" and "inadmissible."
No one was hurt in the attack Saturday evening in the town of l'Union, near Toulouse, regional officials said.
The owner of the shop was inside, with his front gate partially closed, when an identified gunman fired two shots and sped off in a car, officials from the Haute-Garonne region said.
The shooting came amid a rising number of anti-Semitic attacks in France and during the weeklong Jewish holiday of Passover.
Also Saturday night, vandals set fire to the front doors of a synagogue in the eastern city of Strasbourg, leaving charred marks across its facade before the blaze was put out by firefighters.
It was the second attack against a synagogue that day. Hooded vandals crashed two cars through the main gate of a synagogue in Lyon, in southeastern France, and set fire to one of the vehicles inside the temple's prayer hall. The attack, which occurred early Saturday, caused no injuries.
Prime Minister Lionel Jospin said he was "revolted" by the attack on the Lyon synagogue, which was "apparently organized and premeditated." His comments came before the other two attacks were publicly announced.
Jospin called for "respect of religions," speaking to French television station LCI during a weekend campaign trip to Guadeloupe, an overseas department of France.
Officials in both the Rhone region, where the synagogue is located, and the Haut-Garonne, where the butcher's shop is situated, pledged increased security around Jewish sites.
Hundreds of people from different faiths gathered at the synagogue in Lyon on Sunday to show solidarity with the Jewish community.
Le Journal du Dimanche, a Sunday newspaper, reported that a Jewish couple in their 20s suffered injuries from an attack Saturday afternoon in the town of Villeurbanne, in the Rhone region. The woman, identified as pregnant, was reportedly hospitalized overnight.
The wave of anti-Jewish violence broke out after Israeli-Palestinian fighting escalated in the Middle East and has mounted further since the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the United States.
A book published this month by a leading French anti-racism group and Jewish students chronicled about 400 recent attacks against Jews and their religious sites around the country.