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As France reels from the rape of a Jewish girl, antisemitism comes to the fore in election campaign


The suspected rape of a 12-year-old Jewish girl has shocked France, bringing antisemitism concerns to the forefront amid legislative election campaigning. The anti-immigration National Rally party, which has been attempting to distance itself from historical antisemitism, leads in pre-election polls and has a significant chance of forming a government if it wins the two-round elections ending July 7.This would be the first far-right government in France since the Nazi occupation.
Far-left figures have also faced antisemitism accusations related to their responses to Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel and the subsequent conflict.
The issue intensified after prosecutors charged two adolescent boys in a Paris suburb with raping a 12-year-old girl and committing religion-motivated violence. Lawyer and Jewish leader Elie Korchia stated the girl is Jewish and that the word “Palestine” was mentioned during the assault.
Hundreds gathered around the Bastille monument in Paris on Thursday evening to protest antisemitism, marking the second consecutive night of demonstrations. France, home to Europe’s largest Jewish population, is sensitive to antisemitic acts due to its WWII collaboration with the Nazis. The country also has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe, with rising anti-Muslim acts in recent years.
Politicians quickly commented on the attack amid a surge in antisemitic acts in France since the Israel-Hamas war began. Prime Minister Gabriel Attal stated on X that the girl was “raped because she’s Jewish,” while President Emmanuel Macron urged schools to hold discussions on racism and antisemitism.
Jordan Bardella, president of the National Rally, pledged to combat antisemitism if elected and announced the withdrawal of support for a party candidate over a past antisemitic social media post. Marine Le Pen, Bardella’s predecessor, accused the far left of stigmatizing Jews and exploiting the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Leftist leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon condemned “antisemitic racism,” although his party, France Unbowed, has faced similar accusations.

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