Man held over stabbing of Jewish man in Strasbourg

A photo of the scene in Strasbourg uploaded to social media.
A photo of the scene in Strasbourg uploaded to social media.PHOTO: TWITTER

STRASBOURG, FRANCE (AFP) - A mentally disturbed man shouting “Allahu Akbar” stabbed a Jewish man in the French city of Strasbourg on Friday (Aug 19), police and Jewish community sources said.

The victim, a 62-year-old retiree who was wearing a kippa skullcap, was stabbed in the abdomen outside his home in the city’s Jewish quarter by a man with a record of anti-Semitic violence, Strasbourg’s chief rabbi Rene Gutman told AFP.

The victim was admitted to hospital but Gutman said his injuries were not life-threatening.

Several witnesses said the attacker shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest) as he set upon his victim with a knife.

The local prosecutor’s office confirmed the alleged attacker’s arrest and said an investigation had been launched.

Police have not commented on the motive for the attack, but said the suspect, who is in his forties, has a history of mental health problems.

He was convicted for a 2010 attack on another kippa-wearing Jewish man, beating him with an iron bar in a square in the centre of the city, which lies in northeastern France.

Prosecutors at the time said he had mental health problems, believing himself to be “the victim of a Jewish conspiracy” which he blamed for “all his misfortunes”.

Condemning the latest attack, the chief rabbi said it “in no way reflects the prevailing climate in Strasbourg,” which is home to around 15,000 Jews.

But he also called for action to prevent the attacker reoffending.

“If this person can go back onto the street, and stabs any man in a kippa he meets, that’s a problem,” he said.

Mendel Samana, another rabbi who came on the scene shortly after the stabbing, said the victim was “very shocked and feels he had a lucky escape”.

Samana said the victim, a father of three, had told him he had managed to escape after receiving a single stab wound and sought help in a nearby bar.

“I hope this remains an isolated act,” Mandel said.

The attack comes as France reels from a string of jihadist attacks in the past year-and-a-half, beginning with the January 2015 killings in Paris at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket.

Amedy Coulibaly, a Frenchman claiming allegiance to the extremist Islamic State group, shot dead four people at the kosher grocery, two days after the Al-Qaeda-linked Kouachi brothers killed 12 people at Charlie Hebdo’s offices.

Seven months ago, a 15-year-old supporter of the Islamic State group attacked a Jewish teacher in Marseille with a machete.