A letter dispatched by the Department of Population Protection (DDPP) claimed that there was an increased risk of animal thefts prior to the Jewish and Muslim holidays of Yom Kippur and Eid al-Adha. "Ill-intentioned individuals could try to catch the animals in order to perform clandestine slaughters,” the DDPP warned. Those behind the the warning have stated that they did not claim to cause offense or stigmatize any particular religion, the Jewish community sees it differentlh.
Calling the letter “outrageous,” Francis Kalifat, President of the Representative Council of the Jewish Institutions of France (CRIF) and a WJC vice president, stated that such warnings constituted a "slanderous amalgamation” that constituted an encouragement to discriminatory behavior on the grounds of religion.
“The amalgam between Jews and Muslims is systematically made by the political and media world” and has “become intolerable and unbearable,” he said, intimating that the inclusion of Jews in the statement was intended to provide cover for anti-Muslim discrimination.
"I was terrified to find out in the press of August 22 that I had suddenly and collectively, with all my co-religionists, a potential chicken thief,” Consistoire President Joel Mergui told La Croix in a similar statement.
"Why should the Jews systematically be invoked, compared, associated, amalgamated with any negative declaration not assumed in the direction of the Muslims,” he asked.
During Eid, Muslims traditionally slaughter sheep while Orthodox Jews take part in a ritual known as kapparot prior to Yom Kippur, in which a chicken in spun around the head as an act of atonement. The chicken is then slaughtered and donated to the poor. While animals have been stolen and subsequently sold for religious purposes, there is no evidence of Jewish or Muslim thefts related to the holidays.
The French Jewish community recently accused the authorities of covering up the anti-Semitic motives behind the murder of Sarah Halimi, a Jewish woman who was thrown to her death from a window in April.
Kobili Traore, the murderer, had a history of antipathy toward Jews in general and his victim in particular. Only two years before the assault, he called Halimi’s daughter a “dirty Jew.” But when he was arrested he was temporarily institutionalized as he had claimed temporary insanity and, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, there was no reference to possible hate crime charges in the criminal indictment.
In an op-ed in Le Figaro in June, Kalifat wrote that "there is evidence that this is a textbook case of an anti-Semitic murder, but it is being covered up by an ‘omerta’ and this heinous crime has not been recognized for what it is.”
After charges of anti-Semitism were dropped in that case last month, the CRIF, issued a statement expressing “deep dismay” and “disbelief.”
Despite a sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents in France in recent years, 2016 saw a drop in incidents, attributed by government officials to beefed up security around Jewish institutions. French Jews experience, on average, more than six hundred anti-Semitic incidents a year.
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