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As France reels from alleged rape of a Jewish girl, antisemitism comes to fore in election campaign

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As France reels from alleged rape of a Jewish girl, antisemitism comes to fore in election campaign
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As France reels from alleged rape of a Jewish girl, antisemitism comes to fore in election campaign

2024-06-21 19:53 Last Updated At:20:00

PARIS (AP) — The alleged rape of a 12-year-old Jewish girl in a suspected antisemitic attack has sent shockwaves throughout France and thrust concerns about antisemitism to the forefront of campaigning for the country’s legislative elections.

The anti-immigration National Rally party, which has tried to shed historical links to antisemitism, is leading in preelection polling and has its first real chance of forming a government, if it comes out on top in the two-round elections that end July 7. It would be the first far-right force to lead a French government since the Nazi occupation.

Far-left figures, meanwhile, have faced accusations of antisemitism linked to their response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel and the ensuing war.

Concerns came to the fore after two adolescent boys in a Paris suburb were given preliminary charges this week of raping a 12-year-old girl and religion-motivated violence, according to prosecutors. Lawyer and Jewish leader Elie Korchia told French broadcaster BFM that the girl is Jewish and that the word Palestine was mentioned during the attack. 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.

Hundreds of people gathered Thursday evening around the Bastille monument in Paris to protest against antisemitism, in the second straight night of demonstrations.

France has the largest Jewish population in Europe, but as a result of its own World War II collaboration with the Nazis, antisemitic acts today open old scars. France also has the largest Muslim population in western Europe, and anti-Muslim acts have risen in recent years.

Politicians from all sides were quick to comment on the attack, notably after a surge in antisemitic acts in France since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.

French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal wrote on the social media platform X that the girl was “raped because she’s Jewish,” while French President Emmanuel Macron called on schools to hold a “discussion hour” on racism and antisemitism.

Jordan Bardella, president of the National Rally, said that if elected, he would “fight the antisemitism that has been plaguing France since Oct. 7.” In the wake of reports of the attack, Bardella announced that his party was withdrawing support for one of its candidates over an antisemitic message on social media posted in 2018.

His predecessor as party president and the National Rally’s 2022 presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen, accused the “extreme left” of “stigmatization of Jews” and of “instrumentalizing” the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Leftist leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon denounced “antisemitic racism,” though the France Unbowed party which he formerly led has itself faced accusations of antisemitism linked to the Israel-Hamas war.

“There has never been any ambiguity in our denunciation of antisemitism,” lawmaker Manuel Bompard of France Unbowed said on French news broadcaster La Chaîne Info on Wednesday, pushing back on accusations that his party’s stance on antisemitism and the Israel-Hamas war contributed to an environment of insecurity for French Jews. “To have people believe that there would be a link between what happened and France Unbowed’s political positions is offensive and inappropriate,” he said.

Arié Alimi, lawyer and vice president of the League of Human Rights, called for a united front against the far right.

“For some time now there is an awareness that there is antisemitism also on the left and that we need to address it,'' he said at Thursday's demonstration. ‘’Today it’s the camp of the left, of progressives that is gathered with all people who are worried by antisemitism and all kinds of racism in France, in a particular political moment with a far right that could possibly come to power.''

Although the alleged rape has heightened tensions regarding antisemitism in France before the June 30 and July 7 two-round parliamentary election, it is far from a new issue in French politics.

More than 180,000 people across France, marched in November to protest rising antisemitism in the wake of Israel’s ongoing war against Hamas in Gaza.

Along with then-Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne and representatives of several other parties, Le Pen attended the march amid fierce criticism that her once-pariah National Rally party had failed to shake off its antisemitic heritage despite growing political legitimacy.

Borne, the daughter of a Jewish Holocaust survivor, tweeted that “the presence of the National Rally is not fooling anyone.”

Party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, Marine Le Pen’s father, was convicted repeatedly of antisemitic hate speech and played down the scope of the Holocaust. Marine Le Pen — runner-up in the last two presidential elections and likely a top contender in 2027 — has worked to scrub the party’s image, kicking her father out and changing its name from National Front to National Rally.

Attal announced in May that “366 antisemitic acts ” were recorded between January and March this year, an increase of 300% compared to the first three months of 2023.

Antisemitism refers to hatred of Jews, but there is no universally agreed definition of what exactly it entails or how it relates to criticism of Israel. The Israeli government regularly accuses its opponents of antisemitism, while critics say it uses the term to silence opposition to its policies.

The war has reignited the long debate about the definition of antisemitism and whether any criticism of Israel — from its military’s killing of thousands of Palestinian children to questions over Israel’s very right to exist — amounts to anti-Jewish hate speech.

Morton reported from London.

People gather against anti semitism, Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Paris. The alleged rape of a 12-year-old Jewish girl in a suspected antisemitic attack has sent shockwaves throughout France, and thrust concerns about antisemitism to the forefront of campaigning for the country's legislative elections. (AP Photo/Oleg Cetinic)

People gather against anti semitism, Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Paris. The alleged rape of a 12-year-old Jewish girl in a suspected antisemitic attack has sent shockwaves throughout France, and thrust concerns about antisemitism to the forefront of campaigning for the country's legislative elections. (AP Photo/Oleg Cetinic)

Anti far-left protesters display a banner that reads, "antisemitism is not a campaign promise" next to the entrance where the media conference will take place of the leaders of France left-wing parties for the upcoming election in Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. Leaders of France's left-wing parties, allied in a coalition known as the New Popular Front on Friday outlined their plan to fend off the far-right from claiming power at the upcoming snap national election. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

Anti far-left protesters display a banner that reads, "antisemitism is not a campaign promise" next to the entrance where the media conference will take place of the leaders of France left-wing parties for the upcoming election in Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. Leaders of France's left-wing parties, allied in a coalition known as the New Popular Front on Friday outlined their plan to fend off the far-right from claiming power at the upcoming snap national election. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

People gather against anti semitism, Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Paris. The alleged rape of a 12-year-old Jewish girl in a suspected antisemitic attack has sent shockwaves throughout France, and thrust concerns about antisemitism to the forefront of campaigning for the country's legislative elections. (AP Photo/Oleg Cetinic)

People gather against anti semitism, Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Paris. The alleged rape of a 12-year-old Jewish girl in a suspected antisemitic attack has sent shockwaves throughout France, and thrust concerns about antisemitism to the forefront of campaigning for the country's legislative elections. (AP Photo/Oleg Cetinic)

People gather against anti semitism, one carrying a placard reading "our lives worth more that an imported conflict" Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Paris. The alleged rape of a 12-year-old Jewish girl in a suspected antisemitic attack has sent shockwaves throughout France, and thrust concerns about antisemitism to the forefront of campaigning for the country's legislative elections. (AP Photo/Oleg Cetinic)

People gather against anti semitism, one carrying a placard reading "our lives worth more that an imported conflict" Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Paris. The alleged rape of a 12-year-old Jewish girl in a suspected antisemitic attack has sent shockwaves throughout France, and thrust concerns about antisemitism to the forefront of campaigning for the country's legislative elections. (AP Photo/Oleg Cetinic)

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — A global technology outage grounded flights, knocked banks and hospital systems offline and media outlets off air on Friday in a massive disruption that affected companies and services around the world and highlighted dependence on software from a handful of providers.

Cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike said that the issue believed to be behind the outage was not a security incident or cyberattack — and that a fix was on the way. The company said the problem occurred when it deployed a faulty update to computers running Microsoft Windows.

But hours after the problem was first detected, the disarray continued — and escalated.

Long lines formed at airports in the U.S., Europe and Asia as airlines lost access to check-in and booking services at a time when many travelers are heading away on summer vacations. News outlets in Australia — where telecommunications were severely affected — were pushed off air for hours. Hospitals and doctor's offices had problems with their appointment systems, while banks in South Africa and New Zealand reported outages to their payment system or websites and apps.

At Hong Kong’s airport, Yvonne Lee, 24, said she only found out her flight to Phuket in Thailand was postponed to Saturday when she arrived at the airport, saying the way it was handled would “affect the image of Hong Kong’s airport very much.”

Her already short five-day trip would now have to be further shortened, she said.

Some athletes and spectators descending on Paris ahead of the Olympics were delayed as was the arrival of their uniforms and accreditations, but Games organizers said disruptions were limited and didn't affect ticketing or the torch relay.

“This is a very, very uncomfortable illustration of the fragility of the world’s core internet infrastructure,” said Ciaran Martin, a professor at Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government and former Head of Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre.

DownDectector, which tracks user-reported disruptions to internet services, recorded that airlines, payment platforms and online shopping websites across the world were affected — although the disruption appeared piecemeal and was apparently related to whether the companies used Microsoft cloud-based services.

Cyber expert James Bore said real harm would be caused by the outage because systems we’ve come to rely on at critical times are not going to be available. Hospitals, for example, will struggle to sort out appointments and those who need care may not get it.

“There are going to be deaths because of this. It’s inevitable,’’ Bore said. “We’ve got so many systems tied up with this.”

Microsoft 365 posted on social media platform X that the company was “working on rerouting the impacted traffic to alternate systems to alleviate impact” and that they were “observing a positive trend in service availability.”

The company did not respond to a request for comment.

CrowdStrike said in an emailed statement that the company “is actively working with customers impacted by a defect found in a single content update for Windows hosts.”

It said: “This is not a security incident or cyberattack. The issue has been identified, isolated and a fix has been deployed.”

The Austin, Texas-based company's Nasdaq-traded shares were down nearly 15% in premarket trading early Friday.

A recording playing on its customer service line said, “CrowdStrike is aware of the reports of crashes on Microsoft ports related to the Falcon sensor,” referring to one of its products used to block online attacks.

Meanwhile, governments, officials and companies across the world scrambled to respond.

New Zealand's acting prime minister, David Seymour, said on X that officials in the country were “moving at pace to understand the potential impacts,” adding that he had no information indicating it was a cybersecurity threat.

The issue was causing “inconvenience" for the public and businesses, he added.

On the Milan stock exchange, the FTSE MIB index of blue-chip Italian stocks could not be compiled for an hour, though trading continued.

Major delays reported at airports grew on Friday morning, with most attributing the problems in booking systems of individual airlines.

In the U.S., the FAA said the airlines United, American, Delta and Allegiant had all been grounded.

Airlines and railways in the U.K. were also affected, with longer than usual waiting times.

In Germany, Berlin-Brandenburg Airport halted flights for several hours due to difficulties in checking in passengers, while landings at Zurich airport were suspended and flights in Hungary, Italy and Turkey disrupted.

The Dutch carrier KLM said it had been “forced to suspend most” of its operations.

Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport warned that the outage was having a “major impact on flights” to and from the busy European hub. The chaotic morning coincided with one of the busiest days of the year for Schiphol.

Widespread problems were reported at Australian airports, where lines grew and some passengers were stranded as online check-in services and self-service booths were disabled — although flights were still operating.

In India, Hong Kong and Thailand, many airlines were forced to manually check in passengers. An airline in Kenya was also reporting disruption.

While the outages were being experienced worldwide, Australia appeared to be severely affected by the issue. Disruption reported on the site DownDetector included the banks NAB, Commonwealth and Bendigo, and the airlines Virgin Australia and Qantas, as well as internet and phone providers such as Telstra.

National news outlets — including public broadcaster ABC and Sky News Australia — were unable to broadcast on their TV and radio channels for hours. Some news anchors went on air online from dark offices, in front of computers showing “blue screens of death.”

Hospitals in several countries also reported problems.

Britain’s National Health Service said the outage caused problems at most doctors’ offices across England. NHS England said in a statement said the glitch was affecting the appointment and patient record system used across the public health system.

Some hospitals in northern Germany canceled all elective surgery scheduled for Friday, but emergency care was unaffected.

Israel said its hospitals and post office operations were disrupted.

In South Africa, at least one major bank said it was experiencing nationwide service disruptions as customers reported they were unable to make payments using their bank cards in stores. The New Zealand banks ASB and Kiwibank said their services were down as well.

Shipping was disrupted too: A major container hub in the Baltic port of Gdansk, Poland, the Baltic Hub, said it was battling problems resulting from the global system outage.

Kurtenbach reported from Bangkok and Graham-McLay from Wellington, New Zealand. Associated Press journalists around the world contributed.

Travelers stand in a line at Brussels International Airport in Brussels, Friday, July 19, 2024. A global technology outage grounded flights, knocked banks and hospital systems offline and media outlets off air on Friday in a massive disruption that affected companies and services around the world and highlighted dependence on software from a handful of providers. (AP Photo/Harry Nakos)

Travelers stand in a line at Brussels International Airport in Brussels, Friday, July 19, 2024. A global technology outage grounded flights, knocked banks and hospital systems offline and media outlets off air on Friday in a massive disruption that affected companies and services around the world and highlighted dependence on software from a handful of providers. (AP Photo/Harry Nakos)

Travelers wait for information in front of a departure board at Brussels International Airport in Brussels, Friday, July 19, 2024. A global technology outage grounded flights, knocked banks and hospital systems offline and media outlets off air on Friday in a massive disruption that affected companies and services around the world and highlighted dependence on software from a handful of providers. (AP Photo/Harry Nakos)

Travelers wait for information in front of a departure board at Brussels International Airport in Brussels, Friday, July 19, 2024. A global technology outage grounded flights, knocked banks and hospital systems offline and media outlets off air on Friday in a massive disruption that affected companies and services around the world and highlighted dependence on software from a handful of providers. (AP Photo/Harry Nakos)

Passengers gather near check-in counters at Narita International Airport in Narita, east of Tokyo Friday, July 19, 2024, after a technology outage. A widespread Microsoft outage disrupted flights, banks, media outlets and companies around the world on Friday. (Kyodo News via AP)

Passengers gather near check-in counters at Narita International Airport in Narita, east of Tokyo Friday, July 19, 2024, after a technology outage. A widespread Microsoft outage disrupted flights, banks, media outlets and companies around the world on Friday. (Kyodo News via AP)

Travelers wait in Terminal 1 for check-in at Hamburg Airport, in Hamburg, Germany, Friday July 19, 2024 as a widespread Microsoft outage disrupted flights, banks, media outlets and companies around the world on Friday. (Bodo Marks/dpa via AP)

Travelers wait in Terminal 1 for check-in at Hamburg Airport, in Hamburg, Germany, Friday July 19, 2024 as a widespread Microsoft outage disrupted flights, banks, media outlets and companies around the world on Friday. (Bodo Marks/dpa via AP)

Passengers wait at London Stansted Airport in Essex, amid reports of widespread IT outages affecting airlines, broadcasters and banks, Friday July 19, 2024. (Joe Giddens/PA via AP)

Passengers wait at London Stansted Airport in Essex, amid reports of widespread IT outages affecting airlines, broadcasters and banks, Friday July 19, 2024. (Joe Giddens/PA via AP)

Passengers queue up at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport after a widespread global technology outage disrupted flights, banks, media outlets and companies around the world, in Mumbai, India, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)

Passengers queue up at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport after a widespread global technology outage disrupted flights, banks, media outlets and companies around the world, in Mumbai, India, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)

Passengers wait in front of check-in counters at the capital's Berlin Brandenburg Airport, in Schönefeld, Germany, Friday July 19, 2024, after a widespread technology outage disrupted flights, banks, media outlets and companies around the world. (Christoph Soeder/dpa via AP)

Passengers wait in front of check-in counters at the capital's Berlin Brandenburg Airport, in Schönefeld, Germany, Friday July 19, 2024, after a widespread technology outage disrupted flights, banks, media outlets and companies around the world. (Christoph Soeder/dpa via AP)

Passengers walk through Terminal 1 at capital's Berlin Brandenburg Airport, in Schönefeld, Germany, Friday July 19, 2024, after a widespread technology outage disrupted flights, banks, media outlets and companies around the world. (Christoph Soeder/dpa via AP)

Passengers walk through Terminal 1 at capital's Berlin Brandenburg Airport, in Schönefeld, Germany, Friday July 19, 2024, after a widespread technology outage disrupted flights, banks, media outlets and companies around the world. (Christoph Soeder/dpa via AP)

A plane takes off at the capital's Berlin Brandenburg Airport, in Schönefeld, Germany, Friday July 19, 2024. A widespread Microsoft outage disrupted flights, banks, media outlets and companies around the world on Friday. (Christoph Soeder/dpa via AP)

A plane takes off at the capital's Berlin Brandenburg Airport, in Schönefeld, Germany, Friday July 19, 2024. A widespread Microsoft outage disrupted flights, banks, media outlets and companies around the world on Friday. (Christoph Soeder/dpa via AP)

A view of the apron from the visitors' terrace at the capital's Berlin Brandenburg Airport, in Schönefeld, Germany, Friday July 19, 2024. A widespread technology outage disrupted flights, banks, media outlets and companies around the world. (Christoph Soeder/dpa via AP)

A view of the apron from the visitors' terrace at the capital's Berlin Brandenburg Airport, in Schönefeld, Germany, Friday July 19, 2024. A widespread technology outage disrupted flights, banks, media outlets and companies around the world. (Christoph Soeder/dpa via AP)

Travelers wait in Terminal 1 for check-in at Hamburg Airport, in Hamburg, Germany, Friday July 19, 2024. A widespread Microsoft outage disrupted flights, banks, media outlets and companies around the world on Friday. (Bodo Marks/dpa via AP)

Travelers wait in Terminal 1 for check-in at Hamburg Airport, in Hamburg, Germany, Friday July 19, 2024. A widespread Microsoft outage disrupted flights, banks, media outlets and companies around the world on Friday. (Bodo Marks/dpa via AP)

A traveler at Los Angeles International Airport sits in a jetway for a delayed United Airlines flight to Dulles International Airport due to a widespread global technology outage disrupting flights, banks, media outlets and companies around the world, Friday, July 19, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Stefanie Dazio)

A traveler at Los Angeles International Airport sits in a jetway for a delayed United Airlines flight to Dulles International Airport due to a widespread global technology outage disrupting flights, banks, media outlets and companies around the world, Friday, July 19, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Stefanie Dazio)

This shows a general view of a Great Northern railway train at Hunt's Cross station in Liverpool, England amid reports of widespread IT outages affecting airlines, broadcasters and banks, Friday, July 19, 2024. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP)

This shows a general view of a Great Northern railway train at Hunt's Cross station in Liverpool, England amid reports of widespread IT outages affecting airlines, broadcasters and banks, Friday, July 19, 2024. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP)

Passengers walk at Victoria train station, in London, amid reports of widespread IT outages affecting airlines, broadcasters and banks, Friday July 19, 2024. (Aaron Chown/PA via AP)

Passengers walk at Victoria train station, in London, amid reports of widespread IT outages affecting airlines, broadcasters and banks, Friday July 19, 2024. (Aaron Chown/PA via AP)

Commuter disembark a Great Northern railway train at Hunt's Cross station in Liverpool, England, amid reports of widespread IT outages affecting airlines, broadcasters and banks, Friday, July 19, 2024. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP)

Commuter disembark a Great Northern railway train at Hunt's Cross station in Liverpool, England, amid reports of widespread IT outages affecting airlines, broadcasters and banks, Friday, July 19, 2024. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP)

Travelers at Los Angeles International Airport sleep in a jetway for a delayed United Airlines flight to Dulles International Airport due to a widespread global outage early Friday, July 19, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Stefanie Dazio)

Travelers at Los Angeles International Airport sleep in a jetway for a delayed United Airlines flight to Dulles International Airport due to a widespread global outage early Friday, July 19, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Stefanie Dazio)

Numerous passengers wait in front of a black display board at the capital's Berlin Brandenburg Airport, in Schönefeld, Germany, Friday July 19, 2024, after a widespread technology outage disrupted flights, banks, media outlets and companies around the world. (Christoph Soeder/dpa via AP)

Numerous passengers wait in front of a black display board at the capital's Berlin Brandenburg Airport, in Schönefeld, Germany, Friday July 19, 2024, after a widespread technology outage disrupted flights, banks, media outlets and companies around the world. (Christoph Soeder/dpa via AP)

The logo of Microsoft is seen outside it's French headquarters in Issy-les-Moulineaux, outside Paris, Monday May 13, 2024. Microsoft users worldwide, including banks and airlines, reported widespread outages on Friday, July 19, 2024 hours after the technology company said it was gradually fixing an issue affecting access to Microsoft 365 apps and services. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

The logo of Microsoft is seen outside it's French headquarters in Issy-les-Moulineaux, outside Paris, Monday May 13, 2024. Microsoft users worldwide, including banks and airlines, reported widespread outages on Friday, July 19, 2024 hours after the technology company said it was gradually fixing an issue affecting access to Microsoft 365 apps and services. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

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