Swiss Jewish family threatened by knife-wielding assailant en route to synagogue



A view of the Lowenstrasse synagogue in Zurich. (Wikimedia Commons)

(JTA) — Police in the Swiss city of Zurich arrested a man who is suspected of threatening Jewish Orthodox children and chasing a Jewish family with a large knife.

The incident, in which no one was injured, occurred Saturday night in Zurich’s 3rd district, the Blick news website reported Sunday. The man was released Sunday pending an investigation into his behavior, the report said.

The man accosted the Jewish children on the street, shouting anti-Semitic profanities at them, witnesses said. Half an hour later, he began harassing the family of a Jewish man from Zurich whom Blick identified only as Johnny T. He followed the family, who were walking to synagogue with small children, from some distance while shouting and brandishing a knife at them.

When the family began to run away from the man, whose name was not published, he lunged at them but a passerby, who was Jewish, intercepted him and subdued him until police arrived and arrested the man, the report said.


A police spokesperson, Marco Cortesi, told the news website: “A man approached the Orthodox Jews and made anti-Semitic remarks. He carried a knife with him. He was obviously very drunk.”

The suspect is “neither a Nazi nor an Islamist,” Cortesi said.

Jonathan Kreutner, secretary-general of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities, in an interview with Blick called the incident “startling. It is not commonplace for Jews in Zurich to be threatened on the street in such a manner.”

Physical attacks on Jews are rare in Switzerland. In 2011, a Jewish man was stabbed in front of his family near Geneva by a man who was later found to be unfit to stand trial because of a mental disability.