FRANCE: Anti-Semitic gang-rape of a 12-year-old Jewish girl by teenagers

The French authorities go on keeping silent about the family background of the rapists, most probably to avoid a social explosion and a landslide victory of the far-right in the upcoming parliamentary elections

By Willy Fautré, director of Human Rights Without Frontiers

HRWF (20.06.2024) – Three under-age boys, aged 12 and 13, were indicted on Tuesday 18 June for the anti-Semitic rape of a 12-year-old girl in Courbevoie, a Paris suburb. They were taken into custody after being arrested on Monday.

Two of them, both aged 13, were charged with gang rape, anti-Semitic insults and violence and issuing death threats. The third boy, 12, was also charged with anti-Semitic insults and violence and issuing death threats, but not with rape. He was allowed return home after being charged.

The anti-Semitic attack has sent shockwaves in France in the run-up to a general election that could bring the far-right National Rally to power for the first time.

What is known about the facts

The case began last Saturday evening after “denunciations” from the young girl, accompanied by her parents to file her complaint. According to a police source, the minor explained that she was approached that same afternoon by three teenagers and dragged into a shed while she was in a square near her home with a friend in the La Défense business district. She claimed to know one of them personally, who turned out to be her former boyfriend. The three boys then allegedly hit her and “forced anal and vaginal penetration on her, fellatio, while uttering death threats and anti-Semitic remarks,” said the same source.

During her first statements to investigators, the young girl claimed to have been treated as a “dirty Jew”, several police sources reported. One of the teenagers involved allegedly “asked her questions about her Jewish belonging”, asking her why she did not talk about it and asking her questions about Israel, according to the same sources. The victim then replied that she wanted to “protect herself” from a possible attack. After the anti-Semitic comments, two of the teenagers present raped the young girl successively, according to the victim’s initial statements.

According to other details she provided, one of the attackers filmed the scene. Another allegedly threatened to kill her if she reported the facts to the police. The young girl was taken care of by the firefighters and transported to the medical-judicial unit of Garches, in Hauts-de-Seine, where a gynaecological expertise confirmed the rape, informed Le Parisien.

Independent political analysts and commentators are stunned by the young age of the perpetrators. They estimate that the influence of the social media in the coverage of the 7 October attack of Israel by the Hamas and the ongoing war in Gaza cannot explain everything. Most of them wonder what is the nature of the family and socio-political environment in which the criminal teenagers have been raised and why the French authorities keep silent about it, suspecting they want to avoid violent confrontations between several communities and a landslide victory of the far-right in the upcoming parliament elections.

Some political reactions

The case has sparked outrage among political leaders, who are denouncing a “heinous crime” and a “horrible anti-Semitic rape” ahead of snap parliamentary elections later this month.

President Macron spoke solemnly and seriously about the scourge of anti-Semitism in a cabinet meeting earlier this week. He asked the Minister of Education, Nicole Belloubet, to ensure that over the next few days schools hold a dialogue on the topics of racism and hatred of Jews to prevent “hateful speech with serious consequences” from “infiltrating” classrooms. A number of commentators of political life share the opinion that his reaction does not match the seriousness of the facts as it is more and more difficult and dangerous for teachers to speak about the Holocaust, extremism, terrorism and anti-Semitism in class. Everybody remembers the murder of Samuel Paty on 16 October 2020 by an 18-year-old Chechen Muslim refugee who beheaded him on the street with a cleaver. A social media campaign against Paty was at the origin of his killing.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal sent a thought to the victim and her loved ones and said “What happened is absolutely despicable, unbearable, unspeakable. I really call on all political leaders to put barriers on the issue of anti-Semitism.”

Opposition political leader Marine Le Pen of the far-right party National Rally (Rassemblement National/ RN) attacked “the extreme left” and its “stigmatisation of Jews over the past months through the instrumentalisation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict“. The leader of the current election campaign of the RN Jordan Bardella called for a “combat” against the “anti-Semitism that has swept down on France since 7 October”, referring to the Hamas attacks on Israel.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the far-left France Unbowed party (La France Insoumise/ LFI), who is increasingly accused by his political opponents and political commentators of ambiguous comments on anti-Semitism and controversial statements about the Israeli-Palestinian said he was “horrified by the rape,” anti-Semitic racism and  criminal male behavior from a young age. However, he is more and more targeted, including inside his party, for his positioning.

François Ruffin, rebellious deputy for the Somme and one of the figureheads of the New Popular Front created in a hurry by far-left parties (La France Insoumise, Communist Party…), the Ecologists, the Socialist Party of former President François Hollande, was also indignant on the social network about a “horrible anti-Semitic rape of a child”.

On the eve of the snap parliamentary elections in two rounds to be held on 30 June and 7 July, current polls respectively put the voting intentions in favor of the coalition of far-right parties and candidates at 35% and 28% for the coalition of far-left and left parties. President Macron’s party would only collect 18%.

Photo: Jean-Luc Mélenchon (left) from screenshot LCI Channel (French media)


Further reading about FORB in France on HRWF website