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French hate crimes on rise: Minister

Hate crimes against Muslims in France tripled, anti-Semitic assaults remained at high level and attacks at Christian sites rose by a fifth

Published: Updated:

Hate crimes against Muslims in France tripled last year, anti-Semitic assaults remained at an already “high level” and attacks on Christian sites rose by a fifth, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve says.

Cazeneuve told the Catholic daily La Croix in an interview for Wednesday publication that islamophobic threats or assaults “tripled to some 400 for the year 2015.”

He said more than half occurred in the first quarter of the year after jihadists attacked the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in January, claiming 17 lives.

Across the year as a whole “we note a drop of five percent in anti-Semitic attacks, which nonetheless remained at a high level with 806 recorded,” Cazeneuve said.

Cazeneuve added that attacks on Christian places of worship and cemeteries rose 20 percent to 810.

Overall, 2014 had seen 133 attacks on Muslims and 851 of an anti-Semitic nature based on complaints logged with police.

“I cannot accept such acts – they must be severely punished,” Cazeneuve said.

The official tally for 2015 is to be published on Wednesday by Dilcra, the acronym for an inter-ministerial office charged with fighting racism and anti-Semitism.

The massacre by Islamic extremists of 130 people in coordinated Paris attacks in November have also stoked fears of attacks on Moslems and Islamic sites.

Abdallah Zekri, president of the National Observatory against Islamophobia, said 429 islamophobic attacks or threats had been registered in 2015, the highest since his organisations was established in 2011.