On Monday January 11th, a Turkish teenager of Kurdish descent attacked a Jewish teacher in Marseille, France. He was armed with a knife and a machete, with which he wounded the teacher before being arrested. According to prosecutor Brice Robin, the teen claimed that he did this in the name of Allah and the Islamic State, best known as ISIL (or, inaccurately, as ISIS).
The teacher will be okay, and suffered only minor wounds, but the attack is another in a line of racially motivated attacks in France following the November 13 attacks launched by ISIL in Paris, which resulted in the deaths of 130 people.
France has the largest Jewish and Muslim populations in Europe, and the two groups have both been on edge of late. France has a long history of anti-Semitism, and following the establishment of Israel after World War II, there has been a fair amount of bad blood between Jews and Muslims. For the most part, of course, Muslims living in France are peaceful, law-abiding citizens, and the country has vowed not to restrict immigration or take less refugees following the November attacks, but this most recent attack isn’t exactly good press for French Muslims.
What’s more, the Kurdish background of the 15-year-old assailant doesn’t quite gel with ISIL. Kurds don’t have a good relationship with the Islamic State, which sees Kurdish- speaking Yazidis as infidels to be destroyed. The Kurds in Iraq have been fighting ISIL for years, and those in Turkey and parts of Syria and Iran have no reason to like the group either. Kurds are individuals, of course, and they have whatever beliefs they choose, but it does speak to the danger that ISIL poses to the wider world. If they can get their hooks into a Kurd in France and convince him to take up arms in their name, their appeal as an organization should be taken seriously.