French Police Kill Man Trying To Burn Rouen Synagogue

In the north-western city of Rouen, France, a disturbing incident unfolded as French police were compelled to respond to an alarming situation. Authorities were alerted after smoke was observed emanating from a synagogue in the early hours of the morning, prompting a swift and decisive action from law enforcement.

Upon arriving at the scene at approximately 06:45 local time (04:45 GMT), police encountered a harrowing sight—a man armed with a knife and an iron bar, evidently posing a significant threat. Reports indicate that when the armed individual advanced towards the police officers, one of them discharged their firearm, resulting in the fatal shooting of the assailant.

The swift and decisive response from the police undoubtedly averted what could have been a more catastrophic outcome. However, the incident has left the city of Rouen reeling in shock and disbelief. Mayor Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol expressed profound concern, emphasizing that the attack on the synagogue reverberated beyond just the Jewish community, leaving the entire city “battered and in shock.”

While firefighters managed to bring the fire under control within the synagogue, the damage inflicted inside has been described as significant. Thankfully, there were no reported casualties other than the armed assailant.

Natacha Ben Haïm, the head of Rouen’s Jewish community, voiced her distress over the catastrophic event, lamenting the extensive damage incurred within the sacred place of worship. “I’m really upset, it’s catastrophic,” she expressed, reflecting the profound impact of the incident on the local community.

She said a petrol bomb had been thrown through a small window, setting the synagogue alight. The walls and furniture had been left blackened by the fire, she added.

The local public prosecutor said two investigations were under way – into the arson attack on a place of worship and into the death of the man outside the building.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin praised police “for their responsiveness and courage “.

France, in common with the rest of Western Europe, has seen a surge in antisemitism since Hamas attacked southern Israel last October leading to the current war in Gaza.

Earlier this week a memorial in Paris that honours 3,900 men and women who helped rescue Jews during the Nazi occupation of France in World War Two was daubed with red-painted hands.

President Emmanuel Macron said defacing the wall undermined the memory of France’s heroes and its victims of the Holocaust.

France has the third largest Jewish community in the world, after Israel and the US.

The head of France’s Council of Jewish Institutions (Crif), Yonathan Arfi, said that “setting a synagogue on fire – that’s intending to intimidate every Jew”.

Another leading figure in the Jewish community, Elie Korchia, thanked police for their quick response to “a new antisemitic drama in our country”.

Rouen’s places of worship have come under attack in the past. Eight years ago a priest was fatally stabbed while leading a church service.

The latest violence comes days after gunmen shot dead two prison officers in an ambush at a motorway toll south of the city. Convicted prisoner Mohamed Amra escaped during the attack and his still on the run.

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