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France's Hollande vows more security after raids on Islamic network

French police special forces carried out a series of early-morning raids across France to dismantle what authorities called a radical Islamist network, resulting in 11 arrests and one death.


French President Francois Hollande arrives for a statement on the steps of the Elysee Palace, after a meeting with the heads of France's Jewish Associations, in Paris, October 7. An Islamist suspected of a grenade attack on a Jewish market was shot and killed by police in the northeastern city of Strasbourg on Saturday and 11 others detained in what prosecutors called a "vast anti-terrorist operation".

Christian Hartmann/Reuters

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French President Fran├žois Hollande pledged on Sunday to increase security around synagogues and introduce tougher anti-terrorism measures, a day after a series of police raids dismantled a radical Islamist network that targeted Jews.

Seeking to calm the fears of France's Jewish community, the largest in Europe, Mr. Hollande invited seven leaders of Jewish groups to the presidential palace where he promised support to fight a rash of anti-Semitic attacks.

"I have reaffirmed that the state will not compromise in fighting racism and anti-Semitism. Nothing must be tolerated," Hollande told reporters outside the presidential palace.

Tensions are high in the Jewish community over a series of attacks and threats. They have ranged from death threats against the chief rabbi of Lyon, to an attack with a hammer and iron bars on three young Jewish men.

On Saturday evening, blank bullets were fired from a car at a synagogue in the Paris suburb of Argenteuil while worshippers were inside.

In the worst such violence, three children and a rabbi were shot dead in March outside a Jewish school in Toulouse by a radical Islamist inspired by al Qaeda, who also killed three soldiers in a 10-day rampage.

"After the Toulouse tragedy, we would have hoped and thought there would be an end to the anti-Semitic atmosphere in our country. Unfortunately, anti-Semitic acts have multiplied," Joel Mergui, president of the Paris Central Consistory, told reporters after meeting Hollande.

Since he was elected in May, the Socialist president has proved to be tough on law-and-order issues.

But he remains caught between the need to crack down on crime and campaign promises to be more inclusive than his conservative predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, whose often harsh rhetoric on Islamist issues offended many Muslims.


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