Yehoshua Malik, 31, was stabbed on Shabbos morning in Antwerp, Belgium. The perpetrator is still at large.
Malik, a member of the Belz community, was en route to shul when he was attacked. Following a struggle, the assailant stabbed him in the neck and fled, managing to evade arrest. Authorities reported that the suspect is a Caucasian and did not have any information as to a motive.
“There was an announcement in all of the shuls that people should avoid spending time in the streets,” said Harav Yaakov Dovid Schmall, Dayan of Antwerp’s Shomei Hadaas Kehillah. “By the afternoon, Shmirah, our local security service, had guards posted at all of the batei medrashim.”
Malik was hospitalized following the incident, but was released Motzoei Shabbos in stable condition.
Even before the outbreak of protests and unrest in Western Europe during this summer’s Gaza War, the region’s Jewish community was put on alert, following the shooting of four victims in the Jewish Museum in Brussels by an Islamic terrorist.
Despite this, Antwerp, home to one of Europe’s largest Orthodox communities, has heretofore been quiet. Rav Schmall said that, while precautions were taken, the local population remained calm.
Others reported higher levels of concern.
“After the attack happened, news spread like wildfire,” said Philip Carmel, European policy advisor to the Brussels-based, European Jewish Congress (EJC). “There was a lot of concern, since it is a small neighborhood, and there was someone on the loose with a knife.”
Carmel told Hamodia that police had heightened their security presence and briefly arrested a suspect, who was quickly released and cleared of any connection to the attack.
“At the root of these attacks is the ongoing incitement against Jews from across the political spectrum and radical Islamists,” said Dr. Moshe Kantor, EJC President. “There is a war against the Jews on the internet and on the streets. Until there is a crackdown on incitement to hatred and anti-Semitism, then more people will believe that these types of attacks are legitimate.”