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French Jews Debate Danger of Wearing Kippa After Teacher Attack

  • 15-year old Turkish man attacked a Jewish teacher in Marseille
  • Government declines to take position and promises protection

France’s Jewish community is debating whether wearing a kippa has become a dangerous demonstration of their faith after a teacher in Marseille was attacked by a 15 year-old claiming to act in the name of the Islamic state.

Zvi Ammar, head of the Marseille Israelite Consistory, suggested the city’s Jews should take off their religious garb after the teacher was attacked Jan. 11. Yet the country’s Grand Rabbi Haim Korsia and the national council representing Jews in France have urged them not to take the small skullcap off their heads.

“We must not give way,” Korsia said on France Info radio.

The French government isn’t taking a position on the wearing of a kippa while pledging to “protect and denounce anti-Semitic acts,” spokesman Stephane Le Foll said on I-Tele news channel today. President Francois Hollande called the attack an “unspeakable act.” 

The teacher was attacked with a machete by a young Turkish man from Kurdish background. The man claims to have acted “in the name of Allah” and “full of hate,” Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin told the press Jan. 11. He was unknown to France’s police and intelligence services. He has been transferred to Paris to confront the anti-terrorism prosecutor.

This is the third attack against Jews in Marseille in the past six months. Since the Nov. 13 attacks that killed 130 in Paris, there have been regular threats “targeting the Jewish community more” Robin said Tuesday at a press conference in Marseille. The Mediterranean port city is the home to about 70,000 Jews, one of the religion’s biggest communities in France.

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