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Boys charged in alleged antisemitic gang rape of 12-year-old girl in France

6/19: CBS Morning News
6/19: CBS Morning News 20:08

Two adolescent boys in a Paris suburb have been given preliminary charges of raping a 12-year-old girl and religion-motivated violence, French authorities said Wednesday. A Jewish leader said the girl is Jewish.

The attack elicited widespread shock and concern, notably after a surge in antisemitic acts in France since the start of the Israel-Hamas war. President Emmanuel Macron asked schools to hold a "discussion hour" for teachers to talk with their students about racism and antisemitism this week in the wake of the incident.

The girl told police she was gang-raped by boys using antisemitic slurs, according to the public prosecution office for the Nanterre region.

Macron was quick to condemn the incident and call for the discussions in schools as he vies for his political future, with France is in the middle of an unexpected three-week election campaign. Macron called a snap parliamentary election in the wake of a disappointing result for his party in European Parliamentary elections earlier this month.

On Wednesday, the president's office said Macron had asked education minister Nicole Belloubet "to organize a discussion in all schools on the fight against antisemitism and racism, to prevent hate speech with serious consequences from infiltrating schools."

The girl reported the rape in the town of Courbevoie on Saturday, and three boys, aged 12 and 13, were detained, according to the regional prosecutor's office. It said two of the boys were given multiple preliminary charges on Tuesday, including aggravated gang rape on a minor younger than 15, violence and public insult motivated by religion, death threats, attempted extortion and unlawfully recording or broadcasting sexual images.

The two boys are being held in custody pending further investigation, the prosecutor's office said. The third boy was named as an assisting witness to the alleged rape, and placed in a special education program.

The prosecutor's office did not specify the girl's religion or release her identity, according to policies for the protection of victims, as is standard practice for hate crimes in France. French media reports and the town mayor called it an antisemitic attack, and identified the girl as Jewish.

Protest against antisemitic violence in Paris
People attend a demonstration against antisemitism in front of Paris City Hall after three boys, aged 12 to 13, were accused of rape and antisemitic violence against a 12-year-old girl, on June 19, 2024. The sign reads "It could have been your sister." Dylan Martinez / REUTERS

Later, lawyer and Jewish leader Elie Korchia said in an interview with French broadcaster BFM that the girl is Jewish and that the war in Gaza was referenced during the attack. 

Protesters gathered outside Paris City Hall for a demonstration condemning antisemitic violence and threats, carrying signs that read "It could have been your sister" and "Our lives are worth more than the importation of the conflict," Reuters reported.

Political leaders across the spectrum denounced the attack. France's snap parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place in two rounds, on June 30 and July 7, and the far-right National Rally party, currently leading in opinion polls, has sought to make security and immigration key campaign issues.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin described the attack as ''awful,'' and said police were limited in their ability to prevent such violence. ''It's a problem of the parents … of authority. It's a problem of society as a whole,'' he said on BFM television.

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