Jewish shopper hit, kicked at heavily Muslim Vienna suburb

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — Austrian police arrested a man who is suspected of a hate crime against a Jew in a shopping mall near Vienna.

The incident happened on Tuesday at a supermarket inside a shopping mall in St. Polten, a heavily Muslim suburb of the Austrian capital, the news website Heute.at reported.

The alleged victim, a 53-year-old man who was shopping while wearing a Star of David necklace, was taunted by a group of young men. Initially ignoring their anti-Semitic slurs against him, the man was then attacked by one of the men, according to the report.

The alleged attacker hit and kicked the victim, prompting police to intervene and arrest him. According to the report, the victim required medical treatment after the beating. It did not elaborate on his injuries.

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During questioning, the alleged perpetrator admitted to hitting the Jewish man but denied making any anti-Semitic speech or that the attack was an anti-Semitic act.

The report, which named neither man, did not contain the suspect’s explanation as to why he hit the 53-year-old Jew.

The alleged victim told Heute that St. Polten is “one of the worst areas in terms of anti-Semitism in Vienna,” adding he was considering moving elsewhere.

In 2014, the number of anti-Semitic incidents recorded in Austria nearly doubled, from 137 the previous year to 255.