French synagogue targeted by drive-by shooting as President seeks to soothe interfaith tensions
A synagogue north of Paris has been targeted by a drive-by shooting on the same day as police carried out raids on an alleged radical Islamic terrorist cell said to be behind an attack on a Kosher grocery store.
Witnesses says shots were fired from a car at the synagogue at Argenteuil, at Val-d’Oise, around 7:15pm on Saturday night before the car sped away.
A police source says the synagogue building was not hit.
The president of the Council for Jewish communities at Val-d’Oise, Moshé Cohen-Sabban, says: “this is another act against the Jewish community. It is very disturbing.”
It is unclear who carried out the attack, but the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) said in a statement that it “strongly condemns the aggression” of an “inadmissible act of intimidation” against the Argenteuil synagogue.
“The CFCM assures the Jewish community it has its support and fraternal solidarity against all aggression aimed at its members and its institutions,” its president, Mohammed Moussaoui, says.
“At the same time as members of extremist networks…are arrested, the CFCM is calling for conscience and everybody’s responsibility in order to prevent confusion with the general Muslim community, which is deeply affected by these people’s abuse of the religion,” Moussaoui adds.
On Saturday, eleven people allegedly part of a radical Islamic terrorist cell were arrested in simultaneous raids across France.
Thirty-three year old Jérémie Louis-Sidney, whose fingerprints were found on a grenade thrown into the grocery store near Paris last month, was killed while being arrested at his apartment in Strasbourg.
The grenade attack in September gave one person minor injuries, but set off strong reactions from the Jewish community.
The French President, François Hollande, met Jewish community leaders today to assure the government would take “extra security measures” to fight against terrorist threats, and step up security at religious sites.
At the same time, he added: “Muslims in France should not suffer from radical Islam. They are also victims. And in our republic, I won’t tolerate men and women with religious convictions being stigmatised by misplaced beliefs.”
The Elysée palace said Hollande then called Mr Moussaoui to stress that “criminals would not be confused with the general French Muslim community.”
Mr Moussaoui noted that: “The large majority of Muslims in France aspire to live out their religion with a strict respect for the values of the Republic,” and said the practice of Islam should not be a permanent source of controversy and uninformed public debate.
The remarks were perhaps a swipe at Jean-François Copé, a candidate to head former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s right-wing UMP party.
Copé recently came under heavy criticism when he made inflammatory remarks about Ramadan.