PARIS (Reuters) - Jews in Marseille should avoid wearing the kippa in the streets, the head of the Jewish community in the southern French city said on Tuesday, a day after a teenager attacked and slightly injured a teacher there who wore the traditional brimless cap.
The teenager, a Turkish citizen of Kurdish origin who was armed with a machete and a knife, said he had acted in the name of the militant Islamic State group, French prosecutors said.
“Not wearing the kippa can save lives and nothing is more important,” Zvi Ammar told La Provence daily. “It really hurts to reach that point but I don’t want anyone to die in Marseille because they have a kippa on their head.”
France, home to both the largest Jewish and Muslim populations in Europe, has been under a state of emergency since Islamist militants killed 130 people in coordinated attacks in Paris on Nov. 13.
In other attacks claimed by the Islamic State, militants last January targeted a Jewish supermarket in Paris.
Ammar said Marseille had the third largest Jewish community in France, adding: “On Saturday, for the first time in my life, I will not be wearing the kippa to the synagogue.”
However, France’s Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia urged Jews in France to continue wearing the kippa and form a “united front”.
In similar vein, Roger Cukierman, head of the French Jewish organization umbrella group, said not wearing the kippa in public was “a defeatist attitude”.
Reporting by Ingrid Melander; editing by Geert De Clercq and Gareth Jones