French authorities close case in intense antisemitic bullying of Jewish student

When a French-Jewish medical student revealed that some of her classmates were harassing her with Holocaust jokes and Nazi salutes, the story made headlines.

The affair prompted French Education Minister Frederique Vidal to say that the alleged harassment of the student known as Rose was “profoundly unacceptable.”

On the campus of the prestigious Paris 13 University, authorities took Rose’s complaints seriously. She also took them to police, Rose said in an interview published in Le Point.

Yet a year later, Rose told the magazine, she has transferred, on faculty’s advice, to a different university and her complaint alleging hate speech and racist harassment was closed by prosecutors for what they said is lack of evidence.

The case of Rose, a 21-year-old who grew up in the Paris suburb of Bobigny, grabbed the country’s attention not because campus antisemitism is rare in France, but because she described incidents shocking in their crassness at one of the republic’s most prestigious universities.

Around her, she also said, classmates played a game they called “frispa” in which a kippah was thrown around like a Frisbee just to provoke her. The classmates would point at Rose and make insults, ignoring her pleas that they stop, she added.

On a student Facebook channel, the same students and others invented a caption contest about her that included “Auschwitz 2019,” “deportation 2019” and “Nazis against Jews” accompanied by a graphics-generated picture depicting a Jewish student on fire.

The last expose about the handling of Rose’s complaint follows other evidence that high schools and universities in France are becoming inhospitable to Jews. In a recent poll, 90 percent of 405 Jewish students said they had been subjected to antisemitism on campus through insults that traffic in stereotypes, jokes about the Holocaust and more.

Rose has transferred to the Paris-Descartes campus. She says she is happy there and not being targeted for being Jewish.

But her legal fight against her alleged tormenters at Paris 13 has failed. Her testimony to police was disputed in several sessions even though she provided police with screenshots of the rhetoric about Jews that led her to file a complaint. In January, prosecutors in Bobigny told Rose that they were closing the case, essentially dismissing her complaint.

She will not appeal or seek further action, she told Le Point.

“I don’t feel like sitting through further questioning,” she said. “I’ve had enough. I’m beat.”


Subscribe to EJC newsletter

Get EJC's bi-weekly newsletter, including the latest statements and news from the European Jewish communities, direct to your inbox.

European Jewish Congress will use the information you provide on this form to contact you. We will treat your information with respect and will not share it with others. By clicking Subscribe, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

browse by community