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Jews belong in France, says French Prime Minister

January 13th, 2015
02:52 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

As French Jews contemplate leaving the country in the wake of last week's Paris attacks, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has sought to reassure the sizable population in an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

"Without the Jews, France is no longer France. It’s the oldest community. They have been French citizens since the French revolution," he said.

"We need to reassure them and we must combat this new kind of anti-Semitism with resolve. But the position of Jews in France is to be in France. For me, I’m absolutely convinced about it, and I shall fight to the very end. I am married to a musician who is Jewish."

Four French Jews who were murdered in a Kosher Paris market last Wednesday were buried in Jerusalem on Tuesday. Mourners included thousands of Israelis, and Israel’s Prime Minister and President.

"This is not how we wanted to welcome you to Israel," President Reuven Rivlin said.

France is home to the most Jews of any European country. But the Jewish Agency for Israel reports that 7,000 French Jews emigrated to Israel last year, double the previous year’s figure, and more Jews arrived in Israel from France than from any other country.

"Israel is your home," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, speaking to French Jews, after the attack.

Judaism, of course, is not the only religion facing a crisis in France.

The militant Islamism, and extremism, of the attackers last week have put new pressures on France's sizable Muslim minority; mosques have faced reprisal attacks since Wednesday's terror attack.

"I would point out that the great majority of our Muslim citizens absolutely condemn what has happened," Valls said. "But it’s true that there is an identity crisis in France, but it’s true in many other countries in northern Europe, in the UK, in Belgium and elsewhere."

"This goes back to schooling, to the organisation of Islam in our countries, to how Muslims speak out and how the Islamic countries react and speak out. They were very well represented during the rally. So France intervened in Mali to save that country from a terrorist threat and it is a Muslim country."

"It is a major struggle for Europe, because all these problems we see in Great Britain, people who cause this problem in Britain, came from home-grown minorities. So we have to defend citizenship and reform thinking about it, but we need to be careful to bring in everyone."

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