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Paris slams sharon for urging jews to quit france

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Paris Slams Sharon for Urging Jews to Quit France

PARIS (Reuters) - France sharply criticized Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Sunday after he urged French Jews to emigrate immediately to Israel to escape what he called "the wildest anti-Semitism."

Branding Sharon's language "unacceptable," a French Foreign Ministry spokesman said Paris had demanded an explanation.

France, home to western Europe's biggest Jewish and Muslim communities, has been troubled by attacks on Jewish people and property in recent years, some of it blamed on youths of North African origin angered by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Sharon, who regularly calls on all the world's Jews to migrate to Israel, acknowledged in a speech to Jewish leaders in Jerusalem that the French government was making efforts to stem anti-Semitism. But he added that the threat was so grave that French Jews should head for Israel without delay.

"If I have to advise our brothers in France, I'll tell them one thing -- move to Israel, as early as possible. I say that to Jews all around the world, but there (in France) I think it's a must and they have to move immediately," Sharon said.

The French spokesman said: "We have been informed of comments made today by Sharon calling on the Jews of France to emigrate to Israel.

"We immediately made contact with the Israeli authorities to ask for an explanation of these unacceptable comments."

Some 600,000 Jews and five million Muslims form part of France's population of 60 million.

The French Interior Ministry registered 67 attacks on Jews or their property and 160 threats against Jews in the first quarter of this year compared with 42 attacks and 191 threats in the last three months of 2003.

(Additional reporting by Megan Goldin in Jerusalem)

Copyright Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved. The information contained In this news report may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of Reuters Ltd.

07/18/2004 19:44

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Paris slams sharon for urging jews to quit france

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