France Vows To Fight Hate Crimes
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France Vows To Fight Hate Crimes

CBS News | July 17, 2005

The government will work tirelessly to fight anti-Semitism and hate crimes, the prime minister said Sunday during a speech to mark the 63rd anniversary of a World War II roundup of French Jews.

Dominique de Villepin urged the French to be vigilant against revisionism and all forms of hate ? including terrorism.

"Let's not give the terrorists the satisfaction of sowing fear and doubt in our minds," he said. "With willpower and justice, we will win this fight."

Villepin spoke at the former site of the Velodrome d'Hiver bicycle stadium, which was transformed into a transit camp on July 16 and 17, 1942.

On those days, 13,152 Jews were rounded up in the Paris region, and 8,160 ? mostly children ? were held at the stadium before being sent to Auschwitz. In all, about 75,000 Jews were deported from France to Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Only 2,500 survived.

"Memory must be living and active," Villepin said at the ceremony. "Through memory, we must learn to avoid the trap of fanaticism, which ? despite all the lessons of the past ? is never completely disarmed."

Racist and anti-Semitic violence in France nearly doubled in 2004, hitting its highest level in a decade and showing no sign of slowing, according to a March report by a government-backed human rights commission.

Many attacks against the Jewish community ? such as arson against synagogues or vandalism of tombstones ? have been blamed on young Muslims.

France's 5 million-strong Muslim community has also been a target. In a case of arson last year, fire damaged a mosque and destroyed a Muslim prayer hall in the southeast.


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