Last Sunday, three hundred Jews were besieged for several hours by violent pro-Islamist activists at the Roquette Street synagogue in Central Paris. They were evacuated under heavy police protection. Bernard Abouaf, an eyewitness and a senior journalist for Radio-Shalom, a Jewish radio channel, said he was « shocked » by the scene, which remained him « of the Holocaust and of of pogroms in Arab countries » (https://www.facebook.com/bernard.abouaf?fref=ts&ref=br_tf)
The congregants and other Parisian Jews had convened in the late afternoon for a pro-Israel and pro-peace prayer gathering, at the request of Rav Elie Ebidia, the synagogue’s rabbi, and of Hazac, a religious Jewish youth movement. The Chief Rabbi of Paris, Rav Michel Gugenheim was attending, as well as several Jewish lay leaders.
A pro-jihadist demonstration, complete with Palestinian flags and ISIS black and green flags, was taking place at the same moment in Paris. It marched across the city for several miles, from the Barbes underground station in the capital’s Northern districts – the beating heart of Muslim North African and African immigration in Paris – to Bastille Circus near Roquette Street. While it gathered only a few thousands people, comparatively low numbers for the Greater Paris area (where 1,8 million inhabitants out of 12 millions are estimated to be Muslim), it behaved in a very agressive way and shouted explicitly antisemitic slogans, including « Itbah al-Yahud » (« Slaughter the Jews » in Arabic).
Upon reaching Bastille Circus, a few hundred pro-jihadist demonstrators poured into Roquette Street. They molested several Jewish passer by and then gathered around the synagogue. According to Abouaf, « were it not for about forty young men belonging to the Jewish Community Security Service and the Jewish Defense League », the synagogue would probably have been attacked and torched. « What happened outside the synagogue was plain urban guerilla », witnesses asserted.
Manuel Valls, the socialist prime minister of France (whose private home is located nearby) personnally called Serge Benhaim, the synagogue’s chairman, to tell him to wait patiently for antiriot police intervention. When the worshippers were finally allowed to go out, Roquette Street was litterred with broken glass.
Another group pro-jihadist mobsters attempted to get into the Tournelles Street synagogue, also located near Bastille Circus. More violent incidents occured in France throughout the week end. In Aulnay-sous-Bois, a Parisian suburb, a Molotov cocktail was thrown into the synagogue on Saturday.
© Michel Gurfinkiel & The Jewish Chronicle, 2014