Muslim leader questions French government data on anti-Semitism

The French Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, declared this Tuesday (14) that 1,518 anti-Semitic acts or remarks have been recorded in France since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas on October 7, in an interview with the French channel Europe 1. Shortly after, In an interview with RMC, Abdelali Mamoun, imam of the Grand Mosque of Paris, questioned the data presented by the minister: “Where are these 1,200 anti-Semitic acts in France?

“I’m not saying the numbers are wrong, but they are not revealed, apparent. I would like us to say that “such and such a synagogue” or “such and such a cemetery was desecrated”, that “such and such a Jewish individual” was attacked or threatened,” declared Mamoun, asking for “concrete elements”.

After the imam questioned the veracity of the figures reported by the French minister, the Grand Mosque of Paris published a press release early in the afternoon affirming that it “does not take into account the comments made by Mr. Abdelali Mamoun” and recalling that the imam “is not the spokesperson for the Grand Mosque of Paris” and “speaks in the media in a personal capacity”.

Darmanin later posted a message on social media thanking the clarifications provided by the Grand Mosque and providing more details on the actions.

“This morning, very shocking insinuations were made by a guest on RMC. I totally condemn them. I thank the Grand Mosque of Paris for the clarifications provided and for opposing the minimization of anti-Semitic acts affecting France,” Dermananin said on X, formerly Twitter.

Detailed data

The minister, who cited 1,518 acts since the start of the war on October 7, indicated in his message that 1,762 anti-Semitic acts had been perpetrated since the start of the year.

Gérald Darmanin also declared during the interview with Europe 1 that “there are, obviously, anti-Muslim acts, but I am forced to note that there are ten times more anti-Semitic acts at the moment” .

In the message published subsequently, he specifies that in addition to the 1,762 anti-Semitic acts, 564 anti-Christian acts and 131 anti-Muslim acts have been recorded since January.

The minister also commented on the nature of the acts: “These are mainly tags (Star of David graffiti on the facades of buildings) and insults, but there are also blows and physical attacks.”

Detailing the information from 22% threats and insults; 10% justification of terrorism; 8% material damage; 6% suspicious behavior; 2% of physical attacks; and 2% attacks on community places.

Two weeks ago, the Paris prosecutor’s office opened an investigation to investigate the authorship of graffiti representing dozens of Stars of David painted in blue on the facades of buildings in the French capital. Authorities linked these acts to the Holocaust, when Stars of David were painted in the homes of Jewish families so that they would be recognized and then taken to concentration camps.

In the morning interview, Darmanin said nearly 600 arrests had taken place since October 7. “The French Jewish community has nothing to do with the bombings in Gaza” and “French Muslims have nothing to do with what Hamas did,” declared the Minister of the Interior.

During the interview, Darmanin argued that we must avoid importing an already quite complicated conflict into France, echoing calls previously made by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Darmanin also recalled that the perpetrators of anti-Semitic acts “are often very young” and “often minors”.

Darmanin banned pro-Palestinian acts

Darmanin is part of Emmanuel Macron’s right-wing Renaissance party and is known for his conservative views on issues such as immigration and Islam.

Shortly after the actions of October 7, he banned pro-Palestinian protests in the country, saying that such acts would represent “a form of radical Islam and a form of the extreme left” and warning that the protests would have anti-Semitic overtones. But the French government subsequently struggled to identify anti-Semitic slogans or acts in protests organized even after the ban.

Demonstrations against anti-Semitic acts on Sunday

More than 182,000 people took to the streets across the country last Sunday to protest anti-Semitic acts (12). It is the largest mobilization against anti-Semitism in the country since the protest against acts of vandalism at the Jewish cemetery in Carpentra, in the south of France, in 1990, according to CNN affiliate BFM TV.

Catholic and Protestant leaders participated in the march against anti-Semitism on Sunday, but Muslim leaders did not participate, saying not a word about Islamophobia was mentioned in the call to protest.