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France vows to protect Jewish community after Paris knife attack

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, French Prime Minister Jean Castex and Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin
From left, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, French Prime Minister Jean Castex and Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin at the scene of a knife attack Friday near the former offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
(Lewis Joly / Associated Press)

France’s interior minister promised Sunday to protect the country’s Jewish community from extremists after a double stabbing blamed on Islamic terrorism in Paris last week.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin visited a synagogue Sunday ahead of the evening start of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, and said that more than 7,000 police and soldiers are protecting Jewish services this weekend. France has Europe’s largest Jewish community.

“I came to assure ... members of France’s Jewish community of the protection of the state,” Darmanin told reporters. “Because we know that Jews are particularly targeted by Islamist attacks and we should obviously protect them.”

Darmanin defended authorities’ handling of a double stabbing Friday outside the former offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, saying intelligence services had prevented 32 potential terrorist attacks over the last three years.

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Coordinated Islamic extremist attacks on Charlie Hebdo’s Paris newsroom and a kosher supermarket in January 2015 killed 17 people. Friday’s stabbing came as the trial in those attacks is under way.

The suspected assailant in Friday’s attack told investigators that he was targeting Charlie Hebdo after it recently republished caricatures of the prophet Muhammad, according to a judicial official. Two people were wounded, and several suspects are in custody.

One suspect arrested after Friday’s stabbing was later released. The man’s lawyer, Lucie Simon, said that he had tried to stop the assailant and should be considered a hero instead.

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Simon told France-Info that her client, a 33-year-old French resident from Algeria identified only as Youssef, chased the attacker. Simon said that the suspect threatened Youssef with a kitchen cleaver and that Youssef fled and told police, who promptly arrested him.


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