Knife-wielding man threatens Swiss Jewish family on way to synagogue
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Knife-wielding man threatens Swiss Jewish family on way to synagogue

Lowenstrasse

A view of the Lowenstrasse synagogue in Zurich. (Wikimedia Commons)

(JTA) — A man was arrested in the Swiss city of Zurich after allegedly threatening Orthodox Jewish children and chasing a Jewish family with a large knife.

The incident, in which no one was injured, occurred Saturday night, the Blick news website reported Sunday. The man was released the following day pending an investigation, the report said. Police said he “was obviously very drunk.”

Witnesses said the man accosted the Jewish children on the street, shouting anti-Semitic profanities at them. Thirty minutes later he allegedly began harassing the family of a Jewish man from Zurich whom Blick identified only as Johnny T. He followed the family, who were walking to synagogue with small children, from some distance while shouting and brandishing a knife.

When the family began to run away from the man, whose name was not published, he lunged at them. A passer-by, who was Jewish, intercepted the knife wielder and subdued him until police arrived and the man was arrested, the report said.

A police spokesman, Marco Cortesi, told the news website: “A man approached the Orthodox Jews and made anti-Semitic remarks. He carried a knife with him. He was obviously very drunk.”

The suspect is “neither a Nazi nor an Islamist,” Cortesi said.

Jonathan Kreutner, secretary-general of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities, in an interview with Blick called the incident “startling.”

“It is not commonplace for Jews in Zurich to be threatened on the street in such a manner,” Kreutner said.

Physical attacks on Jews are rare in Switzerland. In 2011, a Jewish man was stabbed in front of his family near Geneva by a man who was later found to be unfit to stand trial because of a mental disability.