French Interior Minister Manuel Valls (picture), denouncing the assault agaionst the three Jewish youths, said he was "determined to fight against any aggression of a religious nature."
LYON (EJP)---Three young Jews wearing skullcaps have been severely attacked Saturday night in Villeurbanne, near Lyon, by ten people, described as being of North-African origin, who beat them with hammers and iron bars, an act denounced as "extremely serious" by French Interior Minister Manuel Valls.
The Interior Ministry says the attack by 10 assailants on the three people was anti-Semitic, and has called for the assailants to be brought to justice. Two of the victims were hospitalized.
The office of Manuel Valls said Sunday that police were mobilized to arrest those behind the attack a night earlier in Villeurbaine, near the city of Lyon.
The ministry said the assailants wielded a hammer and an iron bar.
One youth had an open wound to the head and a girl was struck in the neck, authorities said. The third was hit in the arm.
French Interior Minister Valls, denouncing the assault, said he was "determined to fight against any aggression of a religious nature.
"These extremely serious acts are a deliberate attack against our republic, which allows everyone, without exception, to live freely and in all safety in their religious affiliation," his office said in a statement.
The victims were hospitalised but later released as police stepped up patrols in the neighbourhood.
The National Bureau of Vigilance against Anti-Semitism said the attackers were of North African origin.
Investigations were under way and no suspects had been arrested.
"We are in the 21st century and there are youngsters assaulting those wearing Jewish skull caps with hammers and bars," lawyer Alain Jakubowicz of French civil liberties group Licra said.
Lyon is located about 470 kilometres (300 miles) south of Paris. The Jewish community there is about 20,000 strong.
France is home to western Europe’s largest Jewish community, estimated at about 600,000 people, and has faced bouts of violent anti-Semitism.
Much of France was shaken in March when a radical Muslim gunman shot dead a rabbi and three Jewish children when he attacked a Jewish school in southwestern Toulouse.
Then-President Nicolas Sarkozy promised o crack down on Muslim extremism and anti-Semitic incidents.