French President Francois Hollande has said on 13 January that 'it is intolerable' for French Jews to be assaulted over their 'religious choice' to wear kippahs (skull caps). The President's comments came after the head of the Jewish community in Marseille, France, urged the Jewish community to stop wearing kippahs following an anti-Semitic attack on a kippah-wearing teacher.
"It is intolerable that in our country citizens should feel so upset and under assault because of their religious choice that they would conclude that they have to hide," said Hollande. Several parents have reportedly advised their sons to swap kippahs with baseball hats out of fear of an attack, after the Jewish leader, Zvi Ammar, said: "Unfortunately for us, we are targeted. As soon as we are identified as Jewish we can be assaulted and even risk death."
One such parent, a 43-year-old Jewish mother in Marseille who has a 14-year-old son, said, reported AFP: "When I drop my children off at school, I have a pit in my stomach." The 15-year-old who carried out the attack on the kippah-wearing teacher had said he acted on behalf of the Islamic State (Isis) and he was "ashamed" that he failed to kill the 35-year-old teacher he had attacked. He has been charged with "attempted terrorist murder". "I had the feeling [the attacker] wanted to decapitate me," said Fabrice Labi, the teacher's lawyer, recounting what his client had told him.
Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, however, feels Ammar's statement on hiding the kippah was unnecessary. "It's certainly not the advice I would give, personally," said Vallaud-Belkacem. Hiding kippahs would be akin to employing a "defeatist attitude", said some of the national Jewish leaders. Meanwhile, several French politicians have spoken on the anti-Semitism issue in France with government spokesman Stephane Le Foll saying, "unfortunately [it] has gone on for too long and has taken new forms today."