Three Chabad Rabbinical students were brutally attacked in Lyon, France on Shabbat afternoon, June 3rd, by a large group of Muslims. The victims were returning home from a Shabbat meal with friends, and were passing through a predominantly Muslim neighborhood when they were verbally and physically assaulted.
Mrs. Azulai, a mother of one of the victims, spoke to Lubavitch.com. “At first there were only three thugs who attacked my son and his friends, screaming ‘Dirty Jew’ and spitting at them. Soon they recruited a group of their friends—another 10– who were waving hammers, iron bars and a knife, and they all began beating the boys up.”
The victims, Shmuel Mequies, Shmuel Bitton and Levi Azulai, all sustained wounds and were hospitalized and treated. Bitton, who received severe blows to the shoulder and suffered a broken hand, is set to be married later this week. Azulai suffered a hammer blow to the back of his head and received stitches.
“The doctors told me if the blow would have been three centimeters further it could have been fatal G-d forbid,” relates Azulai’s mother.
Earlier today, the Mayor and Chief of Police of Lyon met with local Chabad representatives and the victims’ families to respond to the attack. They promised due diligence to step up patrols in the neighborhood and to do their best to find and prosecute the assailants. Investigations are under way and no suspects have been arrested.
The attack was described as an act of “extremely serious” anti-Semitic violence by French Interior Minister Manuel Valls. The minister denounced the attack, saying he was “determined to fight against any aggression of a religious nature”.
“These extremely serious acts are a deliberate attack against our republic, which allows everyone, without exception, to live freely and in all safety in their religious affiliation,” his office said in a statement.
The Jews of Lyon do not always feel safe though. “I am scared with my babies,” Azulai’s sister said. “We walk past these neighborhoods that are 90% Muslims and we are constantly verbally attacked. We are proud to be Jewish but it’s hard.”
Mrs. Sara Gurewitz, local Chabad Emissary and family friend of the victims, described how the government in Lyon’s response to anti-Semitic attacks is often just “excuses and apologies.”
“The recent atmosphere in France has been very anti-Semitic and unfriendly for the Jews. We are used to verbal, anti-Semitic assaults. We have a physical assault in our city around once or twice a year. Local mosques are waving Palestinian flags to incite. As Jews, we are always scared. But after the recent murderous terrorist attack on Jews in Toulouse, everyone is on pins and needles.”