French President vows crackdown on anti-Semitism
Paris: French President Francois Hollande on Sunday led ceremonies, marking the 70th anniversary of the largest roundup of Jews in World War II in France, and promised to crackdown on anti-Semitism in a country reeling from killings at a Jewish school in March.
Some 13,000 Jews were deported by French police on July 16 and 17, 1942, many of whom were first holed up in harsh conditions at Paris' Vel d'Hiv, or the Winter Velodrome stadium.
Thousands of men, women and children were eventually taken to the Nazi's Auschwitz death camp, where they were killed.
Speaking from the site of the former stadium near the Eiffel Tower, Hollande told a gathering, which included Jewish leaders, that the crime "was committed in France by France”.
"Not one German soldier, not one was mobilised during this entire operation," Hollande said.
Hollande invoked the memory of a killing of three Jewish children and a rabbi by at the Ozar Hatorah school in the southern French city of Toulouse in March.
"Four months ago ... Children died for the same reason as those in the Vel d'Hiv because they were Jewish," said Hollande.
He said the security of the Jewish community is the business of the whole country, and there will a crackdown on anti-Semitic acts.
President of France's leading Jewish group CRIF, Richard Prasquier, also spoke at the ceremony of the need to remain vigilant.
"The anti-Semitism that's risen up in our country with extraordinary violence is a daily reality," said Prasquier, whose organisation believes that anti-Semitic acts have risen in France since the Toulouse attacks.
Hollande paid tribute to the "courage" of Jacques Chirac, the last French president, to lead a ceremony there in 1995 who, for the first time, acknowledged the state's role in Jewish persecution.