French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday condemned an “unacceptable increase” in anti-Semitic vandalism and hate speech, linking it to a wave of demonstrations against his government, according to spokesman Benjamin Griveaux.
“Anti-Semitism is a repudiation of the Republic, in the same way that attacking elected officials or institutions is a repudiation of the Republic,” Macron told ministers at a cabinet meeting, Griveaux said.
There has been widespread outrage over anti-Jewish graffiti and vandalism in and around Paris last weekend, including the desecration of a memorial to a young Jewish man who was tortured to death in 2006.
According to the spokesman, Macron said the incidents were “a new turn of events linked to the movement” of so-called “yellow vest” anti-government rallies.
The weekend incidents coincided with another Saturday of yellow vest protest against Macron and his perceived pro-business policies.
Government officials have suggested the anti-Semitic acts could be blamed in part on far-left and far-right activists who have infiltrated the weekly protests.
But they have offered no direct evidence of a link, and the rise in anti-Semitic acts predates the movement, which began in November.
Around 300 people gathered at the Paris memorial site Wednesday in Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois outside Paris to mark the anniversary of the gruesome killing of 23-year-old Ilan Halimi.
Officials, including the Israeli ambassador to France, planted trees to replace two sawn down over the weekend.
The interior minister said this week that the number of anti-Jewish offenses reported to police surged 74 percent last year, to 541 up from 311 in 2017, after two years of declines.
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