It happened on Saturday evening in Zurich’s third district, the Swiss newspaper Blick reported Sunday. A man first stared at a group of Orthodox Jewish children in a playground, later he wielded a knife chasing a group of Jews on their way to synagogue.
One of the Jews who were being chased told Blick: “Me and my friends are all Jewish. The man said anti-Semitic slogans. He cursed the Jews.”
The Jewish man was shaken, according to the report. He just wanted to enjoy a normal Saturday night, he says. “My children played outside and my wife talked to friends on the terrace. I had dinner with friends in the apartment.”
But then the family peace was suddenly disturbed: “My wife came in and said a man was constantly staring at our children on the playground,” said the Jewish person. He then went out and asked the man if he could help him.
“The guy reacted very aggressively and set himself up in front of me,” he related. “I did not want any trouble, got my children in and thought nothing more.”
When the Jewish witness and his friends left for the synagogue half an hour later, the man had noticed him again. “He ran past us, knife in hand. I felt very uncomfortable and instructed my friends to move a little faster.” Then came the shock: “When I turned around, I saw the man was following us. Suddenly he started to sprint.”
The group of Jews took flight. “We ran past a Jewish acquaintance who quickly realized what was happening,” the witness described. The man got in the way of the attacker and got him under control.
Several residents and restaurant patrons followed the evolving scene, and someone called the city police who responded quickly. The officers arrested the threatening man, who is a resident of the district.
A Zurich police spokesman confirmed the incident, saying: “A man approached the Orthodox Jews and made anti-Semitic remarks. He carried a knife with him. He was obviously very drunk.” But there was never any concrete danger, according to the spokesman, who stressed that “the man always stayed away from the people. In addition, there is no [political or religious] background to the incident. He is neither a Nazi nor is he an Islamist.”
According to Blick, the suspect was arrested on Saturday and interviewed on Sunday morning, then set free.