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Religious Persecution in France Reaches Height of Fever Pitch

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Antisemitic persecution has become more commonplace in Paris after terrorism took the country by storm.

Antisemitic persecution has become more commonplace in Paris after terrorism took the country by storm.

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Antisemitic persecution has become more commonplace in Paris after terrorism took the country by storm.

Quincy Balius, Student Editor

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Bombs shake buildings and cause debris to scatter over terrified crowds. Screams echo through alleyways, and prayers are whispered into the silence following earth-shattering explosions. The attacks on Paris on November 13, 2015 will never be forgotten, but, unfortunately, many people don’t see the effect of the attacks’ aftermath on those who practice religion.

Despite the obvious, that more Muslims are being persecuted and hated in France for the crimes of people who share nothing with them but their religion, others are being attacked in France for their religious beliefs. Jewish citizens, in particular, have been targeted, starting with an attack on January 9, 2015.

On that date, four Jewish shoppers were brutally murdered by a radical Islamist in a kosher grocery store.  According to the SPCJ, the Service de Protection de la Communate Juive, anti-Semitic attacks spiked after the incident, rising to 84 percent more than were recorded over the same period in 2014.

Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the attacks by advising Europe’s Jews to migrate to Israel, saying that they would be better protected in the state. However, European leaders generally rejected his claims. Denmark’s chief rabbi, Jair Melchior, told the Jewish people that “terror is not a reason to move to Israel.”

However, he isn’t the one experiencing the terror in Paris. The attacks piled up following January 9 and have only become more serious since the Parisian terrorist attacks on November 13. In the wake of an incident in which a fifteen-year-old boy pulled out a knife and slashed a Jewish teacher walking to synagogue on the street in January of this year, Jews are being told to hide their religious symbols in order to stay safe. The traditional Jewish skullcap, known as the yarmulke, has become a target painted on the backs of Jews rather than a means of religious expression for them.

The attacks piled up following January 9 and have only become more serious since the Parisian terrorist attacks on November 13. In the wake of an incident in which a fifteen-year-old boy pulled out a knife and slashed a Jewish teacher walking to synagogue on the street in January of this year, Jews are being told to hide their religious symbols in order to stay safe. The traditional Jewish skullcap, known as the yarmulke, has become a target painted on the backs of Jews rather than a means of religious expression for them.

Muslims are being advised to do the same with their traditional headwear, and those walking to synagogues and mosques are being told by their religious leaders to be very careful and practice safety behaviors.

Religious expression shouldn’t be an option, but a right. It is one that is being unfairly denied to many in France.

We cannot control the actions of those in France, but we should stand up for those who cannot express their beliefs. Everyone should have the chance to practice a religion without the threat of being hurt or killed.

In the words of Marck Estemil, author of It is Time, a book about religious freedom, “Freedom is an expensive gift always worth fighting for. Even if it costs us!”

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Religious Persecution in France Reaches Height of Fever Pitch