A 31-year-old Syrian man admitted on Monday having had attacked the head of the Jewish community in Graz, Elie Rosen, with a chair leg, German newspaper Junge Freiheit reports.
Rosen was leaving the city’s main synagogue when he was chased by a man who looked to be holding a bat. Rosen jumped into his vehicle and fled away but not before the man smashed his windshield. Rosen was unharmed.
The Graz police arrested the man on Sunday evening.
The refugee, who has been living in Austria since 2013, is a “radically Islamized anti-Semite” who “rejects life in Austria as a whole,” said Interior Minister Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) at a press conference. Synagogues nationwide are now being increasingly guarded to prevent similar attacks.
The Syrian, who is currently unemployed, is said to have damaged a Catholic Church, a brothel and a pub belonging to the LGBT scene last week. On Saturday, he smeared the walls of the synagogue with pro-Palestinian sayings such as “Free Palestine” and “Our language and our country are red lines”.
When he was arrested, the police found a chair leg and stones in his backpack.
Nehammer said he was pleased with the good cooperation between the constitutional protection authorities and the police. These led a “united struggle on the one hand against anti-Semitism and on the other hand against radical political Islam”.
Former Austrian minister of interior (2017-2019) Herbert Kickl of the right-wing Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) called for authorities “to publicly name the entire spectrum of radical forces”, which includes “political Islam” and a “broad section of the left-wing radical spectrum”.
He added that “under the guise of criticism of Israel, Jews are openly attacked”.
Rosen wrote on his Facebook page that he was indifferent “from which side anti-Semitism comes: from the left, from the right, from above, from below”.
To Wiener Zeitung, he also said, “We are increasingly dealing with left-wing and anti-Israeli anti-Semitism in Graz.”