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France vows to protect its Jewish community on Yom Kippur after stabbing

Interior minister says 7,000 police and soldiers guarding synagogue services, warns of more Islamic terror attacks

From the left, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, anti-terrorism state prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard , and Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin answer reporters after a knife attack near the former offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, September 25, 2020 in Paris. (AP Photo/Lewis Joly)
From the left, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, anti-terrorism state prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard , and Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin answer reporters after a knife attack near the former offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, September 25, 2020 in Paris. (AP Photo/Lewis Joly)

PARIS, France — France’s interior minister promised Sunday to protect France’s Jewish community from extremists after a double stabbing in Paris blamed on Islamic terrorism.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin visited a synagogue Sunday ahead of the evening start of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, and said more than 7,000 police and soldiers were protecting Jewish services. France has Europe’s largest Jewish community.

“I came to assure … members of France’s Jewish community of the protection of the state,” Darmanin told reporters. “Because we know that Jews are particularly targeted by Islamist attacks and we should obviously protect them.”

Darmanin defended authorities’ handling of a double stabbing Friday outside the former offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, saying intelligence services have prevented 32 potential terrorist attacks over the past three years.

Coordinated Islamic terror attacks on Charlie Hebdo’s Paris newsroom and a kosher supermarket in January 2015 killed 17 people, and Friday’s stabbing came as the trial into those attacks is under way.

French police officers rush to the scene after people were stabbed in a suspected terror attack near the former offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, in Paris, on September 25, 2020. (Alain Jocard/AFP)

The suspected assailant in Friday’s attack told investigators that he was targeting Charlie Hebdo after it recently republished caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, according to a judicial official. Two people were wounded and several suspects are in custody.

One suspect arrested after Friday’s stabbing was later released — and his lawyer says that he had tried to stop the assailant and should be considered a hero instead.

Lawyer Lucie Simon told France-Info that her client, a 33-year-old French resident from Algeria identified only as Youssef, chased the attacker. Simon said the assailant threatened Youssef with a kitchen cleaver, so Youssef fled and told police — who promptly arrested him.

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