The police have arrested a man in connection with the crime. They now allege that he committed a series of such crimes of which most of the victims, several of whom have been seriously wounded, are not Jews: an Arab, a Haitian, a Portuguese man and a Breton pensioner.
A source familiar with the case said that "investigators think that the same man committed each crime but there is no coherence or logic to the acts."
At 5:45 PM on Tuesday, police detained a 32 year-old unemployed accountant of Maghreban origin in the street in possession of a knife. One of his victims identified him during a television interview. In all, police allege the man committed nine such crimes in the space of three days, all in the same area of Epinay. He has no police record and no history of mental illness. Police found a big flag at the mans home with the Arabic words Allahu Akbar ("God is Greater") written across it, which the man allegedly shouted when stabbing his Jewish victim. He was subsequently identified positively by several of the others.
However his Jewish victim, Israel Ifrah, whom doctors had earlier expected to make a quick recovery, has had to undergo another round of surgery and has not been able to identify him because of this. A Conservative Catholic Web site has posted rumors stemming from personal messages left at the UPJF Web site according to which the boy, 18, has suffered a hemorrhage and fallen into a coma.
Prior to the arrest developments, Le Monde published an editorial entitled "Wounded France":
It is happening in France. In Europe. In this country, on this continent where Jews were hated, persecuted and exterminated. Two days before the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the allied landing in Normandy, which was to signify the beginning of the end of Nazi barbarism, a young French Jew, wearing a kippa, was assaulted in the middle of the street by a man who dealt him a blow with a knife to his chest, shouting "Allahu Akbar." This happened on June 4, in Epinay-Sur-Seine, in Seine-Saint-Denis, not far from the talmudic institute of Nekor Israel, where the the boy is a student. Fortunately, his injuries appear not to be life-threatening.Interior minister de Villepin immediately arrived on the scene however he had only just returned from Boulogne-Billancourt where he'd congratulated the cops on arresting the five youths who had insulted and hit the son of rabbi. He says 76 people have been arrested since the start of the year for having committed anti-Semitic acts.
Anti-Semitism has reached a new level. One can only draw a link between the two events: again! once more! Jews are the victims of insults, assaults and hatred! In Europe. In France. One can only share the feeling of fear and revulsion that has taken hold of France's Jewish community before such recidivism.
Meanwhile, Justice minister Dominique Perben held a press conference to announce that to date the French government has recorded 180 anti-Semitic acts (including assault and arson) in 2004, of which, he said, all but 35 have gone unpunished because authorities have so far been unable to identify the perpetrators; and six of those cases did not result in prosecution: in one case, the perpetrator was only six; in two others, the perpetrators were let off with warnings; in another two, the matter was settled after the aggressors agreed to make reparations. The last had to be let go due to lack of evidence.
Interior minister de Villepin has also announced the creation of an anti-Semitism squad for each of France's 96 departments. "After a sharp rise in anti-Semitic acts in 2002 and a steep decline in their number in 2003, there has been a detectable rise in the first trimester of 2004: 67 such acts against 24 in all of last year. Such acts are unacceptable in our Republic," he said. (I'm guessing the discrepancy between the numbers given by de Villepin and Perben (180 / 67) is due to the nature of offenses that fall under the purview of each ministry? Somebody help me out here...)
Coincidentally, the Interior ministry announced a "spectacular drop in Crime in France during the month of May."