French Jewish journalist placed under police protection after threats

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Ruth Elkrief, a French Jewish columnist with TV broadcaster LCI, is being placed under police protection over threats she received after far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon criticized one of her interviews, calling her a “fanatic” and accusing her of showing “contempt for Muslims.”

“Given the threats from Mr. Mélenchon and others — since it is really an outburst of hatred on the internet — I decided this morning to provide police protection” to Elkrief, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin told broadcaster BFMTV on Monday.

Mélenchon “put a target on the back of Mrs. Elkrief, who already faced many threats as a journalist [and] was just doing her job,” Darmanin said, criticizing “irresponsible behavior” from the far-left France Unbowed (LFI) party.

After Elkrief’s interview of an LFI lawmaker, Manuel Bompard, turned heated over the weekend, Mélenchon called the journalist a “manipulator.”

“If we don’t insult Muslims, this fanatic is outraged. What a disgrace!” Mélenchon wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

“Elkrief reduces all political life to her contempt for Muslims,” he added.

The 63-year-old journalist, who comes from a Jewish family, received support from her employer, the TF1 TV channel, which issued a statement criticizing “the odious invectives and inappropriate insinuations she has been subjected to.”

Darmanin’s announcement comes as the French far left has been under fierce political pressure in recent weeks following its refusal to condemn the October 7 attacks by the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which killed around 1,200 people on Israeli soil.

Since then, Mélenchon has been accused of antisemitism by his political opponents, reviving long-standing claims about his supposedly antisemitic behavior.

These debates are taking place in a tense context in France, which is home to some of the largest Jewish and Muslim populations in Europe, and which has seen a sharp rise in the number of reported antisemitic acts since the Hamas attacks.

Asked if Mélenchon’s remarks were antisemitic, Darmanin said: “Here, it’s mostly the journalist who is attacked.”

But, he added, “what’s certain is that Mr. Mélenchon isn’t the greatest protector of Jews that I know.”