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The Middle East

Chirac Visits Paris Mosque to Condemn 'Odious Attacks'

April 10, 2002|From Associated Press

PARIS — President Jacques Chirac on Tuesday made the first visit by a French head of state to Paris' Grand Mosque in 76 years to denounce a spate of attacks on Jewish sites and call for unity between French Jews and Muslims.

Synagogues, schools and cemeteries around the country have been targeted, often with firebombs, in the last two weeks.

In the most serious case, a Marseille synagogue was burned to the ground March 31.

"I want to reiterate here with you how much these odious attacks aren't worthy of our country," Chirac said.

In the latest episode, a bomb was lobbed Tuesday night at a synagogue in the Paris suburb of Garges-les-Gonesse but did not explode, officials said. The site was also targeted over the weekend.

The attacks have coincided with an escalation in Middle East violence and have heightened tensions between French Jews and the country's Muslim community.

Chirac's visit to the mosque was the first by a French head of state since 1926. Dalil Boubakeur, head of the mosque, called on Muslim youths to respect all religious sites in France.

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