(JTA) – A Jewish teenager reported being assaulted near Paris by three men who hit him and called him a “dirty Jew.”
The incident occurred on Tuesday in Montreuil, an eastern suburb of Paris, according to a report published Thursday by the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, a French watchdog group. The victim, identified as Ruben Am, 18, sustained several cuts to his face from the hits, BNVCA President Sammy Ghozlan wrote.
According to the BNVCA report, Am said he had been approached near the Robespierre metro station by a tall black man who asked him for a lighter. Then the man asked Am about his religion. Feeling threatened, Am said he was a Moroccan Muslim. But the interlocutor punched him in the face, saying he could not be Muslim, as he attended the Daniel Mayer Jewish vocational school.
He also called Am “a dirty Jew,” the report said, and was joined by two other men, also black, who covered their faces with their hoodies. The three then fled the scene.
Also Tuesday, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called on French Jews – who in recent years have been immigrating to Israel in record numbers, partly because of anti-Semitism – to stay in France, where he vowed authorities will protect them from anti-Semitic attacks.
“The fears are present, how can we deny them,” Valls said during a speech in honor of the Jewish New Year to several hundred people at the Synagogue of Nazareth in Paris. “No one will condemn those who leave for Israel but they belong here.”
In 2014, nearly 7,000 French Jews left for Israel, or made aliyah – more than three times the number in 2011.
Valls, whose wife is Jewish, was making his fourth consecutive Rosh Hashanah address before members of the Jewish community.
“We will not tolerate any word, any act, this inalienable right to practice their faith, or not to,” said Valls, who warned that “without Jews, France will lose it essence.”