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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 October, 2004, 13:31 GMT 14:31 UK
French concern over race attacks
Desecrated Jewish graves in Brumath Cemetery, near Strasbourg
Jewish centres and cemeteries have been attacked
The wave of anti-Semitic attacks in France is a "new and extremely worrying social factor", says a report.

Author Jean-Christophe Rufin said attacks had been carried out by people from various backgrounds.

French Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin said more attacks had been recorded so far this year than in 2003.

But he said the number of reported incidents reached a peak during March and April this year and had fallen away since then.

Mr de Villepin said 27 violent racist acts had been recorded in the three months of July, August and September, compared with 26 in April alone.

There were 18 incidents of violent anti-Semitism in the same three months, compared with 23 in April.

Police help

France is home to Europe's largest Jewish and Muslim communities, estimated at 600,000 and five million respectively.

Anti-Semitism and racism are not marginal subjects, even less so are they communal matters - they are at the heart of the evolution of our society
Jean-Christophe Rufin
report author
Mr Rufin, a writer and president of the aid organisation Action Against Hunger, says blame for the attacks does not lie solely with members of extreme right-wing organisations or youths of North African origin, as has been previously alleged.

"The new anti-Semitism seems more heterogeneous than believed by those who see it as a problem specifically among people of Maghreb [North African] origin and as a natural consequence of events in the Middle East," he says in the report.

"What we must convince the French people of is that anti-Semitism is the common enemy of Jews and the Republic."

The report said the police should be informed of serious racist or anti-Semitic incidents in schools, increase surveillance of likely targets and improve government-sponsored integration of immigrants.

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