Despite, or rather due to recent racial tensions in France, a campaign calling for everyone to wear the Jewish kippa gained ground on social media Wednesday.
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Spread largely on Twitter and joined with the hashtag "#TousAvecUneKippa" (everyone with a kippa), the campaign featured photoshopped images of recognizable public figures wearing the skull cap - from actor Brad Pitt to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Many of the tweets specifically called on members of the general public to wear a kippa on Friday at 10 A.M. in solidarity with the Jewish community in light of recent attacks that have unnerved local Jews and spurred calls from a few community leaders to leave the skull cap at home as a matter of saftey.
Representatives of the Jewish community of Marseille issued conflicting statements on the controversial calls to abandon the kippa in public.
Tzvi Ammar, president of the local office of the Consistoire, the French Jewish community’s organization responsible for religious services, began the public debate on Tuesday when he by Le Figaro as saying Jews should “remove the kippa during these troubled times” because “the preservation of life is sacrosanct.”
But Michele Teboul, president of the local branch of CRIF – an umbrella group that represents French Jewish communities politically as a lobby – told JTA that she “could not support a measure which dials back hundreds of years during which Jews were able to practice their faiths and live freely as citizens of the French Republic.”
Jewish individuals “should decide whether to wear a hat on top of their kippa, depending on the situation, but removing one’s kippa seems unwarranted,” Teboul said.
Ammar’s statement, which he said “turns his stomach” and is born of “grave circumstances that require extraordinary measures,” came after the stabbing of a Jewish man in Marseille on Tuesday, allegedly by a 15-year-old Muslim radical. He sustained minor injuries.
In November, a Jewish teacher was stabbed and seriously injured by a man who hurled insults at him along with two other men, one of whom was wearing a T-shirt with the logo of the Islamic State terrorist group. The previous month, a Frenchman of Algerian descent stabbed a Jewish man who was returning from synagogue and assaulted two others, including a rabbi.
Marseille has 80,000 Jews in a total population of approximately 850,000. About a third of its residents are Muslim, according to estimates.