Police say the vehicle was suspiciously parked near the entrance of the Metz synagogue, located on the Rue du Rabbin Élie Bloch, in close proximity to the centre of the city. The car was, according to authorities, reported stolen so police executed two controlled explosions in case there were any explosives hidden in the vehicle, Le Parisien reports.
The incident turned out to be a false alarm but has highlighted the tension amongst French police and security services.
After the fatal shooting of a police officer in central Paris last Friday, authorities are increasingly nervous about the possibility of radical Islamic terrorism and potential attacks during the French presidential elections.
Hervé Niel, director of the region’s department of public security, commented on the controlled explosions saying: “Sappers [bomb disposal engineers] intervened after a stolen vehicle was discovered parked not far from the synagogue.” Niel said the explosion was carried out in the trunk of the car and that no explosive material was found.
Islamic radicals in France have routinely targetted the Jewish community over the last several years, most notably in 2015 when Islamists Amedy Coulibaly and his common-law wife and suspected accomplice Hayat Boumeddiene killed four hostages in a Kosher market in eastern Paris. Coulibaly, who had links to the jihadi group who carried out the Charlie Hebdo attack, was killed after French police stormed the market (Boumeddiene remains at large).
Earlier this year, a Jewish teacher was attacked in Marseille by a teen armed with a machete who claimed to have acted on behalf of Islamic State. The teen, originally from Turkey, was charged with attempted murder with the aggravating factor of anti-Semitism.
Islamic radicalism has also been linked to the growing number of anti-Semitic incidents in France which is causing many French Jews to pack up and move to Israel in record numbers. In 2015, almost 8,000 Jews left France citing the rise of anti-Semitic attacks from radical Islamists and others.
French Jews are not the only ones living due to a heightened sense of animosity towards their community. Jews in Germany are now fearing an increase in anti-Semitism from radical Muslims, as well. The Independent Experts Group on Anti-Semitism said that “there is concern about anti-Semitism among Muslims, these days especially in refugee and migrant populations”.