French police are investigating an assault on two Jewish brothers in a Paris suburb, in which the attackers allegedly shouted anti-Semitic abuse.
The eldest, 29, and his brother, 17, say one of the attackers was armed with a hacksaw and they both suffered cuts during the struggle.
They say they were harassed while driving through Bondy on Tuesday evening, wearing kippas.
Bondy is near Aulnay-sous-Bois, an area hit by anti-police rioting this month.
No suspects have been detained yet in connection with Tuesday’s assault.
Bondy is part of Seine-Saint-Denis district, north-eastern Paris, where violence erupted earlier this month because of the alleged rape of a young black man by police.
The man, called Theo, left hospital this week after emergency treatment. Violence also rocked some other suburbs.
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Seine-Saint-Denis has a high density of immigrants, many of them Muslims. The district suffers from high unemployment and urban deprivation.
A French group combating anti-Semitism, called BNVCA, said the two Jews had been racially abused first by two assailants who had followed them in a van.
‘You’re going to die!’
In a statement to police, quoted by French commercial broadcaster LCI (in French), the younger brother says that when the van cut off their car, his brother lowered his window to ask why.
“I do what I want on the road,” the driver allegedly replied. “You dirty Jews! You pr***s! You’re going to die!”
The younger man says the driver then ran at his brother wielding a hacksaw, striking him with it as he tried to protect his face from attack.
When he saw the attacker aiming for his brother’s neck, he struck him and a struggle ensued for the saw, in which his own fingers were cut, he said.
Some of the people then intervened to stop the attack, telling the brothers to leave, which they did, going to the casualty ward of a hospital, the younger brother said.
An eyewitness told LCI that he had taken a hacksaw off a man involved in the brawl but said he had seen no kippas.
“I saw neither Jew nor Muslim nor Christian nor atheist at the scene,” he said. “As for the brothers’ account, I heard nothing of the kind.”
The BNVCA initially said that one of the brothers had lost a finger in the attack but they later corrected their account (in French) of the incident.
Anti-Semitism has been a feature of Islamist attacks in France in recent years:
- An Islamist gunman killed four people in a Jewish supermarket during the Paris attacks in January 2015, which included the massacre at Charlie Hebdo magazine
- In 2012 a Jewish school was targeted by gunman Mohammed Merah in a shooting spree that left seven people dead in Toulouse and nearby Montauban
France Jews: Two brothers attacked in Paris street