Jewish man wearing kippah says he was assaulted with hammer in Marseille
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Jewish man wearing kippah says he was assaulted with hammer in Marseille

(JTA) — A Jewish man told police in the French city of Marseille that he was assaulted on the street while wearing a kippah by a man wielding a hammer.

The incident took place Tuesday morning approximately half a mile from the city’s Grand Synagogue, the man told police, according to a report in the online edition of the La Provence daily.

The alleged attacker threatened the complainant with the hammer and tapped him with it without injuring him before fleeing, the Jewish man reportedly told police. He did not offer clear indications that the incident was a hate crime, according to La Provence.

Tzvi Amar, president of the local office of the Consistoire, the French Jewish community’s organization responsible for religious services, in January 2016 said Jews should “remove the kippah during these troubled times” because “the preservation of life is sacrosanct.”

Amar’s statement, which he said “turns his stomach” and is born of “grave circumstances that require extraordinary measures,” followed the stabbing of a Jewish man in Marseille that month, allegedly by a 15-year-old Muslim radical. The victim sustained minor injuries.

In October 2015, a French man of Algerian descent stabbed a Jewish man who was returning from synagogue and assaulted two others, including a rabbi.

Marseille has 80,000 Jews in a total population of approximately 850,000. About a third of its residents are Muslim, according to estimates.

Despite recent attacks, Marseille has faced fewer attacks than Paris, even taking its smaller Jewish population into account. In 2014, the French Jewish security service SPCJ  recorded 186 attacks in the Paris region, where some 300,000 French Jews live — a rate of approximately one attack per 1,600 Jews. Only 36 such incidents occurred in Marseille, about 30 percent fewer than Paris.