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French boys accused of raping 12-year-old Jewish girl | Northwest and national news

The gang rape of a 12-year-old Jewish girl sparked nationwide outrage in France, with President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday condemning the “scourge” of anti-Semitism after charges were brought against two 13-year-old boys.

Amid accusations between rival political parties campaigning for national elections at the end of the month, hundreds of people took part in demonstrations against anti-Semitism in Paris and Lyon.

The girl told police that three boys aged 12 to 13 approached her on Saturday evening while she was in a park near her home in Courbevoie, a northwestern suburb of Paris, police sources said.

As one police source told AFP, she was dragged to a shed, where the suspects beat her and “forced” her to have sex, “using death threats and making anti-Semitic remarks.”

The girl said she was called a “dirty Jew,” another police source said.

One of the boys asked her questions about “her Jewish religion” and Israel, the source added, citing the child’s statement to investigators.

The rape was filmed by one boy and the other threatened the girl to kill her if she told authorities about his experience, police sources said.

– Juvenile defendants –

A friend who was at the park with her identified the two attackers, and three boys were arrested on Monday. Two of them, both 13 years old, were charged on Tuesday with gang rape, anti-Semitic insults and violence, and death threats. They were detained.

A third boy, 12, was charged with anti-Semitic slurs and violence and death threats, but not with rape. He was allowed to return home.

The prosecutor’s office said in a statement that the accused boys “expressed regret to the victim, without discussing their impact on the facts” in the case.

France has the largest Jewish community of any country outside Israel and the United States, as well as the largest Muslim community in Europe. There has been a sharp increase in anti-Semitic acts since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, which started the Gaza war.

“She was raped at the age of 12 because she was Jewish,” said one banner displayed during a demonstration in central Paris, in which Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti was one of the well-known figures who took part.

Macron told a meeting of the cabinet of government ministers that the “scourge of anti-Semitism” threatens French schools, a source close to the president said.

The source said the president called for “dialogue” on racism and anti-Jewish hatred in schools to prevent “hate speech with serious consequences” from “penetrating” classrooms.

Far-right figurehead Marine Le Pen, whose National Ration Party is tipped to make significant gains in the election, has been sharply criticizing the “far left” for “stigmatizing the Jewish people” since the beginning of the war between Israel and Hamas.

Jean-Luc Melenchon, head of the far-left France Unbowed (LFI) party, accused of minimizing the significance of anti-Jewish attacks, condemned “anti-Semitic racism.”

The head of the Central Jewish Consistory in France, Elie Korchia, condemned what he called a “heinous and vile sexual crime”, while the country’s chief rabbi Haim Korsia said he was “appalled” and that “no one should be excused in the face of this “an unprecedented wave of anti-Semitism.”

Center-right mayor of Courbevoie, Jacques Kossowski, condemned the “despicable act” and called for the perpetrators to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, “regardless of age.”

Official data shows that in the first months of 2024, the number of anti-Semitic acts in France has tripled compared to the same period a year ago.

Of the 1,676 anti-Semitic acts recorded in 2023, 12.7 percent took place in schools.

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