A Jewish woman in her thirties was attacked in her own home in the Montluc district of Lyon’s 3rd arrondissement on Saturday, raising immediate concerns about an antisemitic motive behind the violence.
The woman, who suffered two stab wounds to the abdomen, was discovered with a swastika painted on her door. According to a number of media reports in France, while her injuries were considered serious, they were not life-threatening, and she was receiving medical care in the hospital.
Le Figaro, confirming earlier reports from Le Progrès, detailed that the attack occurred around 1 p.m. when an individual dressed in dark clothing and with a concealed face knocked on the victim’s door. Upon answering, she was assaulted and subsequently rushed to the emergency room.
The presence of a mezuzah at her doorway, a traditional Jewish symbol, alongside the swastika points to a hate crime, prompting the Lyon public prosecutor’s office to suggest an “antisemitic motive” in their preliminary assessment, though not all authorities in France have yet to determine if it is considered an antisemitic attack.
As reported by BFMTV, the mayor of Lyon, Grégory Doucet, took to social media to condemn the violence, offering his full support to the victim and her relatives. Doucet’s statement underscored the community’s dismay and the urgent need for solidarity in the wake of such events.
The legal representative for the victim, attorney Stéphane Drai, confirmed on BFMTV that a complaint will be lodged for “attempted homicide,” highlighting a worrisome trend where expressions of hate are escalating into physical attacks. Police have taken up a position in the victim’s hospital room to conduct their investigation and are working to track down the assailant.
Surging antisemitism in France
This stabbing took place amid growing concerns about antisemitic acts in France, due to the violent conflict between Israel and the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza. The hashtag #JeSuisJuif has emerged on social media, advocating for awareness and a stand against rising antisemitism in the country, just as it did in 2015, after the attack on a Kosher supermarket in Paris.
The judicial police, along with departmental security, announced that they are handling the inquiry, indicating the severity with which this incident is being treated.
Last week, it was reported that France has witnessed a shocking surge in antisemitic incidents since the October 7 Hamas massacre in southern Israel. A staggering 819 such acts have been reported – nearly double the total for all of 2022, according to the latest report confirmed on Monday by French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin.
This surge has sent shock waves throughout the French Jewish community, with many expressing a deep sense of fear and dread reminiscent of darker periods in history. The sudden increase has raised alarming questions about the state of tolerance and security for Jews in France.
Chairman of the World Zionist Organization, Yaakov Hagoel, reacted to the stabbing and said in a statement on Saturday night: “Antisemitism is currently inflicting brutality not just in Israel, but regrettably across the entire Jewish world. The Jewish people have endured persecutions, pogroms, and the Holocaust. We have come out of these attempts to annihilate us only stronger. Even in these times, we will continue to unite in our strength and demonstrate to the world that we cannot be broken. The nation of Israel lives on, strong and united.”
Rabbi Moshe Lewin, the assistant of the French Chief Rabbi and representative of the Conference for European Rabbis told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday night that it hasn’t yet been categorized as an antisemitic attack. “It’s crucial to identify the attacker and understand their motives, especially since the authorities have suggested that antisemitism could be a factor, though it’s still under investigation,” Lewin said.
“During such troubling times, our immediate assumption is to view it as antisemitism, but we must wait and see if this is indeed the case,” Lewin added. He explained that a number of months ago, there was an incident where a Jewish restaurant was vandalized with antisemitic graffiti, “which later turned out to be the act of another Jew. It’s essential for the authorities to conduct a thorough investigation. We are hopeful for a swift resolution and that the perpetrator will be captured as quickly as possible,” he concluded.