PARIS, Feb. 22 (Xinhuanet) -- French President Jacques Chirac willattend a memorial ceremony Thursday for Ilan Halimi, a Jewish salesman kidnapped and killed in a crime with likely anti-Semitismbackground, the president's office said Wednesday.
Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has also said he will be present at the ceremony.
The 23 year-old telephone salesman was kidnapped and tortured for three weeks in a poor multi-ethnic suburban Paris apartment estate by a gang that asked for ransom. He then died after being dumped by a railway line on February 13.
The alleged mastermind of the gang, 25 year-old Youssouf Fofana,is believed to have fled to Ivory Coast and two French police officers arrived in the west African country Tuesday bearing an international arrest warrant.
Authorities said the crime was motivated in part by anti-Semitism.
Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy told the National Assembly that "these thugs had mainly criminal motives. But they were convinced that Jews have money, and that even if those they kidnapped did not, the community would rally round", describing the crime as "anti-Semitism by association."
French left-wing daily Le Monde in its Wednesday edition said it was "anti-Semitism pure and simple."
"The myth of the rich Jew who can (or must) pay was the excuse for anti-Semitism by association, to use Sarkozy's phrase," the left-wing Liberation said. "The excess of hate and sheer contempt that some have for the name of Jew may have been a trigger." Enditem