'Zero tolerance' for anti-Semitic crimes

by Associated Press - PARIS, FRANCE

July 26, 2005

A (AP)--French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy vowed "zero tolerance" for anti-Semitic crimes during a visit on Monday to a Jewish school targeted in a weekend acid attack.

"When someone threatens a Jew, they threaten the Republic," Sarkozy said at the Sinai school in northern Paris.

Attackers on Saturday threw three bottles of hydrochloric acid at a part of the school that serves as a synagogue. Worshippers were meeting in the room when one of the bottles of acid landed inside. Two others landed in a courtyard. There were no injuries.

Sarkozy insisted there was "only one strategy," that of "zero tolerance, to not allow anything and to punish people right away in order to avoid having to do so when it's already too late."

Police on Sunday detained a 15-year-old in connection with the attack, and Sarkozy said two other youths were taken in for questioning on Monday.

Sarkozy's office released a report Monday showing that anti-Semitic acts in France fell by 48 percent to 290 in the first six months of this year, down from 561 in the same period of 2004. The ministry said the number of the most violent acts, like bombings or arson, fell the most to 49 this year from 148 a year ago.

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