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French minister vows justice for family terrorized by 'anti-Semitic' attack

FILE - In this Jan. 13, 2015 file photo, French soldiers patrol next to a Jewish school, in Paris.
AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File
'They told me 'If you scream, we'll kill you'', one of the victims told i24NEWS

Jewish groups in France have condemned a violent attack on a family on Thursday night during the burglary of their Paris home, which the family claims was motivated by anti-Semitism.

Mrs Pinto, whose husband Roger heads SIONA, a French Jewish association, claims that three people broke into their home in the northeastern suburb of Livry-Gargan on Thursday night when she was at home with her son and husband, during which they were beaten and held captive until dawn.

In an interview with i24NEWS, she described anti-Semitic threats made during the attack and said they were detained while the assailants burgled the house.

"They jumped on me and threw me on the floor,” she said, adding that they threatened her with a knife and warned her that “If you scream, we'll kill you.”

"They repeated several times: You are Jewish, you have money," she said. "We have to take from the rich to give to the poor", the victim quoted her aggressors as saying.

The three assailants finally fled after Mrs. Pinto succeeded in contacting emergency services. The family was then taken to the hospital and police opened an investigation.

Roger Pinto was kicked several times in the head and throat, his attorney said, adding that the assailants made off with jewellery, cash and credit cards.

Police said they had opened a formal inquiry into illegal detention, theft and extortion with violence motivated by the religious affiliation of the victims.

French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb promised a major effort to arrest those responsible "for this cowardly act (which) appears directly linked to the victims' religion".

"Everything will be done to identify and arrest those who carried out this foul attack," he said in a statement.

The National Bureau for Vigilance against Anti-Semitism (BNVCA) denounced the attack as "premeditated," "anti-Jew," and "violent," and asked the police to "do everything possible" to identify and arrest the aggressors.

On Sunday, the Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF) as well as the Union of French Jewish Students (UEJF) also condemned the aggression, evoking the April 2017 murder of Sarah Halimi, which has controversially not been determined as anti-Semitic despite witness testimony to the contrary.

"This horrible act is the obvious proof, if necessary, that French Jews are particularly threatened in the street and, more recently, in their very house, which is even more worrying," warned in a report Francis Kalifat, president of CRIF.

The UEJF condemned "in the strongest terms and denounced this particularly violent and intrusive anti-Semitic aggression that contributes to the rise of insecurity feeling experienced by Jewish community in France.”

In April, Sarah Halami was murdered in her Paris apartment in an attack that witnesses and her family say was motivated by hatred of Jews, but has not been deemed as such by police or prosecutors. 


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