Three people believed to be Islamic State supporters who attacked a Jewish teacher in the southern French city of Marseille on Wednesday evening stabbed him in the face, arms and legs, according to a colleague of the victim.
The anti-Semitic attack on Rabbi Tzion Saadoun, 56, a Chabad emissary and Judaic-studies teacher at a local Jewish school, occurred around 8:00 p.m. local time, according to police.
Saadoun, a bearded, observant Jew, was wearing a skullcap, and was attacked outside his home, a short distance from the school and synagogue complex where he works, a source close to the investigation said.
Saadoun “lives on the border between the Jewish neighborhood and the Arab neighborhood [in Marseille],” a fellow emissary, Rabbi Eliyahu Altab, told Chabad.org. “Right outside his home, he was ambushed by three people. He was stabbed on his face, body, arms and legs. A car drove by, and the attackers got scared and fled.”
According to Chabad officials in Marseille, the victim suffered serious injuries but is in stable condition and his life does not appear to be in danger.
Police were combing the area for the attackers.
One of the attackers, who was travelling by scooter, demanded he look at smartphone pictures of Toulouse jihadist Mohamed Merah, who shot dead three Jewish schoolchildren, a teacher and three soldiers in southwestern France in 2012, Marseille public prosecutor Brice Robin told AFP.
The attacker also showed the teacher that he was wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the symbol of the Islamic State terrorist group. Then the man produced a knife and stabbed Saadoun.
The two other suspects believed to have been involved in the attack stood by, and joined in when the attacker began shouting anti-Semitic profanities. They did not stab the victim.
Saadon filed a complaint with police as he was being treated, and was evacuated to a hospital.
“I’m very shocked. because this is the second incident of its kind in a very short time,” Michele Teboul, the regional president of the Jewish representative group CRIF told AFP, adding she was “worried” about the threat of further attacks.
The stabbing comes as France is on heightened alert following the Islamist attacks that killed 129 people in Paris at the weekend.
The terror attacks, which were claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group, were the worst in French history.
In October a rabbi and two Jewish worshipers were stabbed outside a synagogue in Marseilles following Shabbat prayers. The knife-wielding assailant could be heard shouting anti-Semitic slurs at the time of the assault.
One of the victims sustained serious injuries during the attack.
There have been a series of attacks on Jews in France in recent years, including the shooting at a kosher supermarket in Paris in January, in which four people were killed and the 2012 Toulouse attacks, ramping up fears among the Jewish community and spurring an upsurge in immigration to Israel.