France's President Hollande
France's President Hollande Reuters

French President Francois Hollande on Thursday slammed an "unbearable" anti-Semitic attack on a couple by assailants who apparently targeted them because the man is Jewish, storming into their flat, raping the woman and stealing jewelry and bank cards.

Both the country's prime minister and interior minister have already blasted the brutal assault, which happened on Monday in the Paris suburb of Creteil, as anti-Semitic.

And on Thursday, Hollande said these types of violent tragedies did not only hurt the families and that "it's the best of France that finds itself hurt, broken."

He said the assault showed that "evil sweeps through our societies" and denounced "a form of violence all the more unbearable because it aims to divide."  

According to the male victim, the assailants who barged into the flat told them they had not chosen the place at random.

"We know that your brother is the manager of a big clothing chain. We know he has the cash till," one of them said according to the victim, who was interviewed by BFMTV.

"In any case, you Jews, you have money," the assailant added, according to the victim.  

The father of the man wears a Jewish skull cap and those in the neighborhood would have known they were Jewish, said lawyer Severine Benayoun.  

Police spotted the three alleged assailants soon after Monday's attack, and while two of them were detained in possession of stolen jewelry - and subsequently recognized by the victims - the third is on the run.  

A suspected accomplice has also been arrested, and all three are charged with violence due to religious affiliation and criminal conspiracy.

The two allegedly involved in the attack have also been charged with gang rape, armed robbery, kidnapping and extortion.

The accused are also suspected of having beaten a Jewish man in his 70s in November.

But a lawyer for one of the suspects said the interior ministry had reacted prematurely and condemned the "media frenzy" surrounding the case.

Hollande's condemnation follows a similar statement by French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.

France is home to some 500,000-600,000 Jews, the third largest Jewish population in the world, after Israel and the United States. It is also home to the largest Muslim population in Europe.

French Jews have long complained about rising anti-Semitism, including violent attacks, most of which are perpetrated by young men of Arab or Muslim descent. 

Over the summer tensions over Israel's war with Gaza terrorists spilled over into a wave of anti-Semitism, with synagogues coming under attack by Muslim mobs and Jewish businesses looted during riots by Muslim youths and far-left extremists.

This latest horrific violent attack is reminiscent of the kidnap and murder of Ilan Halimi, a young Jewish man who was tortured to death by a Muslim gang in 2006, after gang members demanded an exorbitant ransom from his family, claiming that "Jews have money."

AFP contributed to this report.

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