Intolerance, extremism on the rise across EU: official

The number of anti-Muslim incidents in France has soared since the Paris attacks, with 128 acts registered over two weeks

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A senior European commissioner warned Monday about rising levels of extremism and intolerance across the 28-nation bloc, targeting Jews, Muslims, homosexuals and even women.

“There is rising anti-Semitism, there is rising Islamophobia, there is rising homophobia,” Frans Timmermans, deputy to European Commission President Jean-Claude told parliamentarians from EU states meeting in Latvia's capital Riga.

“There are people who are actually challenging the position of women in European society,” said Timmermans, who was visiting the Baltic state in connection with the six-month rotating EU presidency which Latvia has assumed.

“This cannot happen. We need to put the rule of law front and centre in our European discussions because if we don't have that, we have nothing.

“If Jews in this Europe cannot feel at home, Europe is finished. If Jews believe their future is not in Europe, Europe has no future. And this applies to Muslims alike - and to other minorities. If gay people think they have to go back into the closet, we have no future for Europe,” he added.

Islamist attacks January 7-9 against the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish kosher grocery in Paris last month killed 17.

Marking Holocaust Remembrance Day, on January 27, European Jewish Congress chief Moshe Kantor warned last week that Europe was “close to” a new exodus of Jews, saying “jihadism is very close to Nazism”.

He was echoed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel who said last week it was a “disgrace” that Jews in Germany faced insults or threats because of their Jewishness or support for Israel.

The number of anti-Muslim incidents in France has soared since the Paris attacks, with 128 such acts registered over two weeks, almost the same amount as all 2014, according the French National Observatory Against Islamophobia.

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