Amid tension following recent terror attacks in Paris, a Jewish school teacher in the southern French city of Marseilles was attacked on Wednesday by three assailants professing support for Islamic State. One of the three stabbed the teacher, a male, while the others shouted anti-Semitic slurs. Authorities said that the victim’s life was not in danger.
Marseilles prosecutor Brice Robin told Reuters that three people on two scooters, one of them wearing an Islamic State t-shirt, approached the teacher in the street. One of the attackers showed the victim a picture on his cellphone of Mohamed Merah, a homegrown Islamist terrorist who killed seven people in an attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse in 2012. Merah has become an icon for many European Muslim youth who have been drawn to ISIS and other terror groups.
“The three people insulted, threatened and then stabbed their victim in the arm and leg. They were interrupted by the arrival of a car and fled,” Robin added.
Michele Teboul, president of the local branch of the Council of French Jewish Institutions, told JTA that the victim was an Orthodox Jew who was bearded and wearing a yarmulke.
The UEJF (Union of French Jewish Students) condemned the attack in a statement and urged police to use all means to catch the assailants. It said that the victim, a history and geography teacher, had received three knife wounds.
Marseilles is home to some 80,000 Jews, making it the third-largest Jewish population center in Europe. Two and a half weeks ago, a Rabbi and his son were stabbed on their way to the city’s Rue Dragon shul on Shabbos morning.
French Jews have been on heightened alert since the Friday attack, fearing a repeat of last January when killings at Charlie Hebdo magazine were followed by the murder of four people at a kosher grocery. The Jewish community has seen a steep increase in attacks in recent years.