French President Jacques Chirac meeting the CRIF Board at the Elysee Palace in Paris.
Photo: Presidence de la Republique
PARIS (EJP) --- The umbrella group of French Jewish organisations, CRIF, has offered to launch a national campaign for tolerance, during a meeting last Thursday with French President Jacques Chirac."
According to CRIF president Roger Cukierman, Chirac has indicated his support for this campaign.
Chirac received the CRIF delegation in order to discuss violence and anti-Semitism, four days after a group of some thirty men from the extremist group Tribu-Ka marched down the Jewish Rue des Rosiers, in the Marais quarter, and threatened shopkeepers and passers-by.
On Wednesday, French Interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy, visiting Rue des Rosiers, declared the number of anti-Semitic acts throughout the country has increased since the beginning of 2006 after it decreased in 2005.
CRIf's chairman said after meeting with Chirac at the Elysée Palace that the French President showed support for the Jewish community following Sunday’s incident.
“Chirac said he was affected by the Tribu Ka incident evaluating it was unacceptable that these individuals generated fear among the population,” Cukierman reported.
A presidential palace press release said that Jacques Chirac condemned “the shocking and unacceptable anti-Semitic assaults” perpetrated in the past months and he assured the CRIF “of his absolute determination to fight against these hateful acts
alongside with the government.
“He said he would encourage actions that would prevent new incidents from happening. He told us about the measures that have already been implemented by the Interior and Justice ministries," Cukierman said.
The CRIF president said a dissolution of Tribu-Ka seemed too complex for now.
Tribu-KA, a small extremist group of Black men and women refusing all contact with non-Blacks, was created in December 2004 by Kemi Seba, a young man influenced by Nation of Islam and controversial comic Dieudonne Mbala Mbala.
According to the Interior Ministry Tribu-KA only has thirty members.
Since 23-year-old Ilan Halimi was murdered in February 2006 by the ‘Gang of Barbarians’, which was led by a Black man, Youssouf Fofana, the tension increased between Tribu-KA and two right wing Jewish organisations Jewish Defence League and Beitar.
Phone Salesmen who work in the street where Ilan Hamili used to work received threat letters that were attributed to Tribu-KA.
The group accused JDL and Beitar of hitting a Black man during a mass demonstration for Ilan Halimi. Although the accusations were denied, Tribu-KA said it launched a chase for JDL and Beitar members.
The gang went to a sports club with the intent of confronting members of the Jewish organisations, several days later it irrupted on Rosiers street.
Asked by EJP if he feared a direct confrontation between young Jews and extremists Cukierman said Tribu KA “is a very small and limited group, a sect really. I hope the measures decided upon by the government would prevent such incidents from repeating themselves. The fact that [Tribu KA’s] Internet site was blocked should also prevent new tensions.”
CRIF suggested to President Chirac that a campaign promoting tolerance would be launched across France.
“We came to tell him we wished to hear a clear call against violence and barbaric acts. We want to see the end of all violence and barbaric acts not only towards Jews but all of the incidents that we have seen recently in suburbs and cities. They are unbearable to the French society,” said Cukierman.
“We suggested a national campaign promoting tolerance, a sense of civic responsibility and life side by side [of the different communities]. We think such a battle is urgent because our youth’s future is at stake.”
“The President showed interest in our suggestion and mentioned the possibility that the state contributed to this effort. A national campaign may have an impact on the general environment and install an improved atmosphere in our country,” added Cukierman.
“The Halimi affair stresses the urgent need to change the atmosphere in France. It struck us that the thirty-member ‘Barbarians gang’ was composed of people from various origins, African, from the West Indies, from Iran, North-Africa, French, a sample of the new French youth, and that none of these people felt the need or the duty they had to report this to the police, even anonymously, and say that someone’s life was at risk. This illustrates the level of violence in our county and the need to change things.”