French PM launches action plan against 'unbearable' racism
CRTEIL - Agence France-Presse
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls delivers a speech to present a plan to fight racism and anti-Semitism at the Prefecture in Creteil near Paris April 17, 2015. REUTERS PhotoFrance's prime minister announced April 17the government would pour 100 million euros into a major anti-racism and anti-Semitism action plan devised in the aftermath of the deadly Paris jihadist attacks.
The programme, which among other measures increases penalties for crimes deemed to have been fuelled by racism and anti-Semitism, comes as at a time when acts against Muslims and Jews have shot up in France.
"Racism, anti-Semitism, hatred of Muslims, of foreigners, homophobia are increasing in an unbearable manner," Manuel Valls said in the Paris suburb city of Creteil, the scene of a brutal attack on a Jewish man and his girlfriend in December.
On Thursday, the country's Islamophobia watchdog said anti-Muslim acts had lept six-fold in the first three months of the year compared with the same period in 2014, fuelled by the January 7-9 attacks when Islamic extremists went on a killing spree that left 17 dead.
And the Jewish community is also increasingly worried, with anti-Semitic acts doubling last year compared with 2013, prompting a rising number of Jews to leave for Israel.
"French Jews must no longer be scared to be Jewish" and "French Muslims must no longer be scared to be Muslim," Valls said.
And it is not just these two communities -- the largest in Europe with an estimated four to five million Muslims and around 600,000 Jews -- that are targets.
The Roma, a minority group that comes mainly from Romania and Bulgaria, are also discriminated against, according to activists.