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July 20, 2018 12:27 pm

Austrian Police Investigating ‘Antisemitic’ Assailant in Violent Rampage in Vienna Jewish District

avatar by Ben Cohen

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Amateur video captured police officers in Vienna arresting assailant Burkay S. Image via oe24.at

A young Jewish man who was violently assaulted on a busy street in Vienna on Thursday has spoken to Austrian media about the ordeal, stressing the antisemitic nature of the attacks on himself and other Jews walking in the same area by a man who shouted angrily in German and Arabic.

In an interview with broadcaster OE24 on Friday, the victim, named as Daniel S., said that he had just left the synagogue on Tabostrasse — a thoroughfare in a district in which many of Vienna’s Jews live and work — “when I felt a firm kick from the back of my hip.”

Daniel said he spun around to confront a man who looked at him “with real hatred.”

Asked whether the attack was antisemitic, Daniel said that he had been assaulted immediately after the attacker — identified as Burkay S., an unemployed 24-year-old — had punched and kicked three Jews outside a kosher restaurant in the same street. He said that a friend had then witnessed the assailant “cross Taborstrasse and walk right up to me.”

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“We were all recognizable as Jews,” Daniel said. “I wore a kippah and my tzitzit and I was carrying a tefillin bag. The other Jews also wore kippot.”

The assailant’s violent rampage had begun an hour earlier, when he punched and kicked a 37-year-old Jewish woman walking in a nearby street.

Following the attack on the Jewish men outside the restaurant, police captured the assailant at a local subway station. Eyewitness Benjamin Gilkarov told OE24 that Burkay S. “seemed mentally ill, but he attacked the three men very purposefully.” One victim was felled by what Gilkarov described as “a karate attack with both legs in the back.”

Alexander Marakovits, a spokesperson for the Austrian Interior Ministry, confirmed on Friday that Burkay S. would remain in police custody — a measure permitted under Austrian law if the offender is deemed to represent a continuing risk.

Quoted by the Kronen Zeitung news outlet, Marakovits said the decision was made after police discovered that Burkay S. had committed similar violent assaults in the same area on Wednesday.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz meanwhile promised a full investigation into whether the attacks were antisemitic.

“We are resolutely fighting any form of antisemitism,” Kurz said on Friday. Austria’s government “will do everything to ensure that Jewish life in Austria is safe,” he added.

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