Man wearing a kippa
A man wearing a kippa pays his respects to the dead near a kosher supermarket in Paris where four people were killed in a January 2015 terror attackGetty

A Marseille Jewish leader's call for Jews not to wear their traditional kippa skull cap to avoid being attacked has sparked debate in France.

The request comes after a teenager wielding a machete attacked a Jewish teacher wearing a kippa in the city in southern France on 11 January. The 15 year old said that he had acted in the name of Islamic State (Isis/Daesh).

Zvi Ammar, head of the Israelite Consistory of Marseille, said that he had asked Jews to refrain from wearing the kippa "until better days", reported France 24.

He said that the decision to make the request was among the hardest of his life, but he prefers "being criticised for making this decision than regretting it one day if, by misfortune, something very grave occurs".

Other French Jewish leaders criticised the decision, with the Grand Rabbi of France, Haim Korsia, tweeting: "We must not cede to emotion." Former Health Minister Xavier Bertrand said on RMT: "If the Jews can no longer wear their kippa, France is no longer France."

"He [Ammar] knows as well as I do that wearing a kippa or not will not resolve the issue of terrorism," added Joel Mergui, president of the Israelite Central Consistory of France.

"If we have to give up wearing any distinctive sign of our identity, it clearly would raise the question of our future in France."

The teenage ethnic Kurd injured the hand and shoulder of the 35-year-old teacher after attacking him with the machete.

Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin told reporters on 11 January that the attacker "has the profile of someone who was radicalised on the internet" and had claimed to be acting for IS. "You get the sense that he does not have a full grasp of the fundamentals of Islam," added Robin.

In October 2015 a rabbi and two worshippers were stabbed in an attack in Marseille by a man shouting anti-Semitic obscenities.

It comes amid a surge in anti-Semitic attacks in France. Official figures released in December revealed that in the first five months of 2015, 508 anti-Semitic crimes were recorded, an 84% increase on the same period the previous year.

In January 2015 four Jews were murdered by terrorist Amedy Coulibaly in an attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris, two days after the attack on the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in the city.