Teenager arrested in France after kicking a rabbi in Paris Metro

PARIS (Reuters) – A teenager has been arrested and is under investigation for assault after kicking a rabbi in the back in the Paris Metro, a prosecutor said on Thursday, against broader concerns over a recent surge in antisemitism in France.

The prosecutor at the Bobigny Tribunal said the possibility of an antisemitic motive aggravated the potential charges.

The incident happened around midday on Wednesday and the victim was wearing a black suit and hat, attire often worn by Jewish rabbis, the prosecutor said.

There have been 1,159 antisemitic acts in France since the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas militants, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Wednesday, nearly three times the number in all of 2022.

Some members of the Jewish community in France have said they feel afraid to leave the house wearing visible religious emblems such as the kippah, or skullcap worn by some Jewish men, and consider which synagogue to attend as some have tighter security protocols.

President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday that France would combat antisemitism and would “be ruthless against those who carry that hatred.”

A march against antisemitism is planned for Sunday by the heads of both houses of parliament. The march has left parties divided on whether to attend, after the far-right National Rally said it would participate.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has said she will take part.

The CGT trade union, which will not participate in the Sunday march, has called for a separate march in Paris on Thursday evening against antisemitism, xenophobia and the far-right.

(Reporting by Layli Foroudi; Editing by Bernadette Baum)