PARIS (AP) — A leading Jewish authority in Marseille, in southern France, asked fellow Jews on Tuesday to refrain from wearing their traditional skull cap to stay safe after a machete-wielding teen attacked a Jewish teacher.
Zvi Ammar, head of the Israelite Consistory of Marseille, said he is asking Jews to go without the kippa "until better days." His call came a day after a 15-year-old Turkish Kurd attacked and wounded a Jewish teacher on a street in Marseille — France's second-largest city — then told police after his arrest that he acted in the name of the Islamic State group.
Ammar said his decision to ask Jews not to wear the kippa was the hardest of his life. But he said he prefers "being criticized for making this decision than regretting one day if by misfortune something very grave occurs." Ammar spoke on TV stations BFM and iTele.
Some Jewish leaders disagreed with Ammar's advice, with one calling it "defeatist" and the Grand Rabbi of France, Haim Korsia, tweeting that "we must not cede to emotion," remarks he made in an interview on TV5.
After the attack, an investigation was opened by the anti-terrorism section of the prosecutor's office in the French capital, where the teen will be questioned.
The knife attack came four days after a man armed with a butcher's knife was fatally shot after authorities said he went after police at a station in central Paris. German authorities say the man had lived at a shelter for asylum-seekers in the western city of Recklinghausen.
France is still reeling from a series of attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 that killed 130 people and just marked the anniversary of attacks on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery store which killed 17 people. In each case, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility.