PARIS (AP) – The French Interior Minister on Sunday promised to protect the French Jewish community from extremists after a double stab in Paris blamed on Islamic terrorism.
Home Secretary Gerald Darmanin visited a synagogue on Sunday before the start of Yom Kippur evening, the day of Jewish Atonement, and said more than 7,000 police and soldiers were protecting Jewish services over the weekend. . France has the largest Jewish community in Europe.
“I have come to assure… the members of the Jewish community in France of the protection of the state,” Darmanin told reporters. “Because we know that Jews are particularly targeted by Islamist attacks and that we obviously have to protect them.”
Darmanin defended authorities’ treatment of a double stabbing on Friday outside the former offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, saying intelligence services had prevented 32 potential terrorist attacks in the past three years.
Coordinated Islamic extremist attacks on the Charlie Hebdo press room in Paris and a kosher supermarket in January 2015 killed 17 people, and Friday’s stabbing came as the trial for those attacks was pending.
The alleged assailant in Friday’s attack told investigators he was targeting Charlie Hebdo after he recently reposted the Prophet Muhammad cartoons, according to a judicial official. Two people were injured and several suspects are in custody.
A suspect arrested after Friday’s stabbing was later released – and his lawyer says he tried to stop the assailant and should be seen as a hero instead.
Lawyer Lucie Simon told France-Info that her client, a 33-year-old Frenchman living in Algeria identified only as Youssef, sued the attacker. Simon said the assailant threatened Youssef with a kitchen cleaver, so Youssef ran away and told police – who quickly arrested him.