Hollande calls for tougher laws on anti-Semitism and race hate

A member of the Jewish community looks at broken tombstones after a ceremony at the Jewish cemetery in Sarre-Union, eastern France, on February 17, 2015, following the desecration of around 300 tombs Image copyright AFP
Image caption Hundreds of Jewish graves were desecrated earlier this month in France

French President Francois Hollande has laid out proposals to strengthen laws on anti-Semitic, racist and homophobic hate crimes.

Speaking at a Jewish group's dinner in Paris, Mr Hollande reassured Jews they were welcome and safe in France.

He also noted that Muslims were coming under increasing attack.

His proposals come after 17 people were killed during the Charlie Hebdo shootings and a kosher supermarket siege last month.

France is still on high alert following the attacks.

Addressing the dinner on Monday, Mr Hollande said he wanted "faster, more effective sanctions" against hate speech, the AFP news agency reported.

Hundreds of Jewish graves were desecrated in eastern France earlier this month.

French Muslim groups have also reported a rise in Islamophobic incidents following the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

According to the Reuters news agency, President Hollande's speech was overshadowed by a spat between leaders of France's Jewish and Muslim communities.

A leading Muslim group boycotted the dinner after a prominent Jewish figure said young followers of Islam were responsible for all violent crime, the agency reported.

It came as the French authorities confiscated the passports of six nationals on Monday who were allegedly planning to travel to Syria to join jihadists.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the intelligence services believed the men wanted to join the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

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