Report: Jewish man wearing kippah threatened with hammer in Marseille

(JTA) — A Jewish man told police in the city of Marseille in southern France that he had been assaulted on the street while wearing a kippah by another man wielding a hammer.

The incident took place on Tuesday morning on Village Street in Marseille’s central 6th district, which is situated approximately half a mile from the Grand Synagogue of Marseille, the man told police according to a report in the online edition of the La Provence daily.

The alleged attacker produced a hammer, threatened the complainant and tapped him with the instrument without injuring him before fleeing the scene, the Jewish man reportedly told police. His deposition did not offer clear indications that the incident was a hate crime, according to La Provence.

Tzvi Amar, president of the local office of the Consistoire, the French Jewish community’s organization responsible for religious services, in January last year said Jews should “remove the kippah during these troubled times” because “the preservation of life is sacrosanct.”

Amar’s statement, which he said “turns his stomach” and is born of “grave circumstances that require extraordinary measures,” came after the stabbing of a Jewish man in Marseille in January of 2016 allegedly by a 15-year-old Muslim radical. He sustained minor injuries.

In October 2015, a French man of Algerian descent stabbed a Jewish man who was returning from synagogue and assaulted two others, including a rabbi.

Marseille has 80,000 Jews in a total population of approximately 850,000. About a third of its residents are Muslim, according to estimates.

Despite recent attacks, Marseille has faced fewer attacks than Paris, even taking its smaller Jewish population into account. In 2014, SPCJ, the French Jewish security service, recorded 186 attacks in the Paris region, where some 300,000 French Jews live — a rate of approximately one attack per 1,600 Jews. Only 36 such incidents occurred in Marseille, about 30 percent fewer than Paris.

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