Living in Fear in France....
This is about the town of Sarcelles in France.
Sunday morning and the market in Sarcelles is buzzing. But the times when Jewish and Muslim stands stood side by side are far off. The Jewish stall holders and shoppers moved away several years ago, to districts frequented by their community.
“The market was a convivial place. Today it’s a not very safe. There are nasty looks and racist remarks are hurled around from time to time,” explains Patricia B. who has been selling clothes at the market for 20 years.
“Sarcelles has become a divided town. We live in captivity, we don’t go out after 7 pm. I don’t even let my daughters go to baker anymore. I bring them to school every morning and fetch them in the afternoon,” she adds.
Since the murder of Ilan Halimi, Patricia avoids showing her religion, but also doesn’t show any sign of wealth to avoid provoking jealousy. Jean-Luc, her husband who had never thought of leaving France, today says he wants to go to Israel: “I feel less and less at home.”
At a nearby stand, Nawell, a young Muslim woman and a friend of Patricia’s agrees. “Seventy percent of my customers were Jews but they don’t come any more. It shows there is an unease.”
As a mother of two, Nawell has always lived in Sarcelles: “I saw Patricia being insulted. I also feel threatened because I am her friend. The feeling of insecurity has worsened in the last three years, and more for the Jews. I’m ashamed of these young Muslims.”
Many Jews have moved to the district known as “Little Jerusalem” where 20 percent of the Jews of Sarcelles now live. “They gather to be in peace,” summarises Sammy Ghozlan, chairman of national Office of vigilance against the anti-semitism, created into 2000.
Mordehaï Aziel is owner of a kosher butcher. He came to Sarcelles 10 years ago and has seen the situation deteriorate little by little. Batcheva, his wife, says their son was attacked recently. Since then, the teenager doesn’t want to go out anymore.
“Since the beginning of 2006, there have been a dozen attacks on Jews in the Val d’Oise department, particularly in Sarcelles where a synagogue was vandalised,” Sammy Ghozlan specifies.
“Little Jerusalem” crystallises the tensions. “Sarcelles is a volcano which sometimes erupts, especially since 2002, when the mayor authorised pro-Palestinian demonstrations.”
The Office of Vigilance listed 13 ant-Semitic acts in 2002 and 27 in 2003. Half were comitted in Sarcelles and Garges-les-Gonesses.
The Jews living close to the synagogue endure daily insults and egg throwing. “It’s stressful,” says Moshé Cohen-Sabban, president of the Jewish communities of Val d’Oise departement. “On Shabbat, we’re more vigilant. Some faithful pass through ‘hot’ districts to attend the office and they’re regularly attacked and insulted.”