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French Jewish Teacher Saved by Torah in ‘ISIS’ Machete Attack

A teenager who attacked a Jewish teacher in Marseille on Monday is a Turkish citizen of Kurdish origin who said he acted in the name of the militant Islamist group Islamic State, the prosecutor in the southern French city of Marseille said.

The victim used a Torah book as a shield, according to one news website, which carried a photo of the blood-stained book. Its leather binding showed a deep cut.

“He claimed to have acted in the name of Allah and the Islamic State, repeating several times to have done on behalf of Daech (Islamic State),” the prosecutor, Brice Robin, told a news conference.

The 15 year-old, who was armed with a machete and a knife, wounded the teacher in his back and in one of his arms before being stopped and arrested.

The attack on the victim, who was wearing a kippah, occurred in daylight in front of a municipal building in the 9th district of Marseille, a police source told AFP.

According to the French Jewish news website alyaexpress-news.com, the victim is in his thirties. Identified only as Benjamin A., he was on his way to the Dvar Avraham synagogue when the attack happened, according to that website. Witnesses said the alleged assailant shouted “allah hu akbar,” Arabic for “Allah is the greatest,” before the attack, the report said. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve earlier called the attack a “brutal anti-semitic aggression.”

France has the highest Jewish and the Muslim populations in Europe. Violent racial incidents have been in the spotlight since Islamic State claimed a co-ordinated series of attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 in which 130 people were killed.

The attack on the victim, who was wearing a kippah, occurred in daylight in front of a municipal building in the 9th district of Marseille, a police source told AFP.

In November, three men, one of them wearing an T-shirt with the Islamic State logo, participated in the stabbing of a Jewish man in Marseille, causing him moderate injuries.

The previous month, a man who initially was deemed mentally unfit to stand trial was arrested for stabbing a Jewish man and assaulting two others. He was eventually tried and given a 4-year sentence following an outcry among French Jews who demanded the decision not to prosecute him be reviewed and altered, citing victims’ testimonies on his behavior and the absence of signs of mental illness in his past.

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