The Paris suburbs where Jews no longer feel safe

By Sarah Smaïl (Bondy Blog Pour Mediapart)

In November, French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced that over the first nine months of this year there had been a 69% increase in reported anti-Semitic attacks in the country compared with the same period in 2017. Some urban areas are witnessing a desertification of once significant Jewish communities, and notably in the socially deprived Paris suburbs of Seine-Saint-Denis, with a relatively large Muslim population, where synagogues are closing down as increasing numbers of Jews are moving out amid religious tensions and fears of insecurity. Others, meanwhile, and notably religious and community leaders, are locally active in attempting to fight anti-Semitism through dialogue and education. Sarah Smaïl, from Mediapart’s online partner Bondy Blog, reports from Seine-Saint-Denis.

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On a rainy Saturday evening earlier this month in Pierrefitte-sur-Seine, a Paris suburb located about ten kilometres north of the French capital, a giant menorah was being erected by a small group of inhabitants on the small square just outside the Town Hall to celebrate Hanukah, the yearly Jewish “festival of lights”.