French President Hollande tells French Jews: "Your place is here"
PARISJan 27, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
Jan 27, 2015 12:00 am
President Francois Hollande appeared to rebuff Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's invitation for French Jews to emigrate, by promising on Tuesday to protect them from anti-Semitism and telling them: "Your place is here".
"You, French people of the Jewish faith, your place is here, in your home. France is your country," Hollande said in a speech to mark 70 years of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.
After a gunman killed four people in a Jewish supermarket in Paris this month, Netanyahu said he wanted to increase Jewish immigration from France and other European countries where he said there was "terrible anti-Semitism".
Speaking at the Paris Shoah memorial to French Jews who died at Auschwitz and elsewhere during World War Two, Hollande said France would remain a welcoming home for its Jewish population.
"I want to say that France will protect all its children and will tolerate no insult, no outrage, no desecration," he said.
France has the biggest Jewish community in Europe -- around 550,000 -- a population that has grown by about half since World War Two.
In 2004, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon angered Paris by urging French Jews to flee "the wildest anti-Semitism" and come to Israel.
When Netanyahu flew to France earlier this month to join a march against the Islamist attacks on satirical newspaper Chalie Hebdo and the Jewish supermarket, he said: "Any Jew who wants to immigrate to Israel will be received here with open arms".
About the author
Research Associate at Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University