French rivals Macron, Le Pen decry Jewish girl’s gang rape as antisemitic attack sends pre-election shockwave

French rivals Macron, Le Pen decry Jewish girl’s gang rape as antisemitic attack sends pre-election shockwave

French President Emmanuel Macron and his far-right rival, Marine Le Pen, both condemned the gang rape of a 12-year-old Jewish girl in what authorities categorized as an antisemitic attack in a Paris suburb. 

During a Council of Ministers meeting on Wednesday, Macron said that French schools are being threatened by a “scourge of antisemitism” after a 12-year-old girl told police she had been in a park near her home in Courbevoie, northwest of Paris, with a friend on Saturday when three boys, two 13-year-olds and one 12-year-old, approached her. She allegedly was dragged into a shed and raped while they made antisemitic remarks.

Two boys were charged on Tuesday. Macron instructed French Education Minister Nicole Belloubet to start conversations in schools on the topics of racism and the hatred of Jews in the coming days in order to prevent “hateful speech with serious consequences” from “infiltrating” classrooms, the BBC reported. 

Le Pen, whose party’s victory during the European Parliament elections signaled voters in France and elsewhere largely rejected mass migration and other leftist policies, blamed “the stigmatization of Jews for months by the far left.” Macron called snap national elections following Le Pen’s far-right party victory, and they will begin later this month. 

“The anti-Semitic attack and the rape of a 12-year-old child in Hauts-de-Seine revolt us. The explosion of anti-Semitic acts, up 300% compared to the first three months of 2023, must alert all French people: the stigmatization of Jews for months by the far left through the instrumentalization of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a real threat to civil peace,” Le Pen wrote on X. 

“Everyone should be fully aware of this on June 30 and July 7,” she added.


France is in the midst of a blitz campaign for parliamentary elections on June 30 and July 7, and the frontrunner right-wing National Rally party has sought to make security and immigration key campaign issues.

Jordan Bardella, leader of Le Pen’s party, said that if he is elected, he would “fight the antisemitism that has been plaguing France since 7 October,” the BBC reported. 

The three boys were detained on Monday, and the local Nanterre public prosecutor’s office announced Tuesday that two of them are facing multiple preliminary charges, including aggravated gang rape on a minor younger than 15, violence and public insult motivated by religion, death threats, attempted extortion and unlawfully recording or broadcasting sexual images.  

One of the boys allegedly threatened to kill the victim if she went to the police, Le Parisean reported. The girl said she knew at least one of her attackers. 


In accordance with French law, prosecutors did not release the girl’s religion. Later, however, lawyer and Jewish leader Elie Korchia said in an interview with French broadcaster BFM that the girl is Jewish and that Palestine was mentioned during the attack. French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that the girl was “raped because she’s Jewish,” identifying it as an antisemitic attack.

Two boys are being held in custody pending further investigation, the prosecutor’s office said. The third boy was named as an assisted witness to the alleged rape, and placed in a special education program. The prosecutor’s office said the three boys “expressed regret towards the victim without addressing their involvement.”

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin described the attack as “awful,” and said police were limited in their ability to prevent such violence. 

“It’s a problem of the parents … of authority. It’s a problem of society as a whole,” he said on BFM television. 

On Wednesday evening, hundreds of people gathered in front of Paris City Hall to protest antisemitism. Many in the crowd were holding placards, including some bearing the slogan “raped because she’s Jewish.”

“Horror has no limits. Rape, anti-Semitism: everything is abominable in this crime committed in Courbevoie against a 12-year-old girl. I think of her and her loved ones. Justice, School, Republic: a single response against barbarism,” Belloubet wrote on X. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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