A prominent Jewish politician in Finland was assaulted on Wednesday by a man shouting a racial epithet against Jews, according to a local newspaper.

Ben Zyskowicz, a member of the National Coalition Party who was recently appointed speaker of the Finnish parliament, was attacked by a middle-aged man in Helsinki, Finnish tabloid Ilta-Sanomat reported.

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“The situation was quite out of nowhere. He came directly at me and tried to hit me in the face. However, I managed to swerve,” the newspaper quoted Zyskowicz as saying.

Zyskowicz said the assailant had called him a “jutkuksi,” a Finnish slur against Jews. He was not wounded in the incident.

Zyskowicz was born in Sweden to a Jewish couple but grew up in his mother’s birth country, Finland. He is the first member of the country’s approximate 1,500 Jews to be elected to parliament.


“These attacks are rare,” Israeli-Finnish blogger Dennis Mitzner said on Thursday. “If you walk around Helsinki any time you’ll find Zyskowicz at a cafe having lunch. He’s one of the most visible politicians and is very accessible, perhaps the most popular politician in the country. I don’t remember the last time a Jew was attacked in Finland.”

Finnish President Tarja Halonen, who visited Israel last year, condemned the incident, and Zyskowicz said he wouldn’t press charges.

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