A mentally disturbed man who stabbed a religious Jew while shouting “Allahu Akbar” in the French city of Strasbourg on Friday was charged with attempted murder for the attack that is being viewed as a hate crime, judicial sources in France said Saturday.
Prosecutors said a criminal investigation is underway into the attack, “for the attempted murder of the victim based on his real or inferred race or religion.”
The attacker, who has a record of anti-Semitic violence and mental health problems, was remanded into custody and held under psychiatric observation.
Witnesses said the attacker shouted “Allahu akbar,” Arabic for “God is greatest,” as he stabbed the 62-year old kippa-clad man in the city’s Jewish quarter.
Strasbourg Chief Rabbi Rene Gutman said the victim was admitted to the hospital with moderate injuries.
Gutman said the attacker had also assaulted a Jewish person in 2010, and was not representative of the spirit of coexistence in the city.
Condemning the attack, he said it “in no way reflects the prevailing climate in Strasbourg,” which has a large Jewish community. He said Interior Minister Bernard Cazaneuve had called to express solidarity.
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.
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.
At the start of this year, a 15-year-old supporter of the Islamic State group attacked a Jewish teacher in Marseille with a machete.