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German Jewish leaders were "disturbed" and "disappointed" on Tuesday at the "very mild" sentence meted out to a young Muslim man in Frankfurt who was convicted of stabbing a local rabbi.
Sajed Aziz, 23, was sentenced on Tuesday to three and a half years in prison for stabbing Rabbi Zalman Gurevitch, 43, last September. According to Gurevitch, Aziz shouted anti-Semitic slurs at him before plunging a nearly seven-centimeter blade into the rabbi's lower abdomen.
Aziz claimed the attack was an act of self-defense after Gurevitch allegedly grabbed him by the collar.
Judge Klaus Drescher said there was not enough evidence to support the original charge of attempted manslaughter, finding Aziz guilty instead of serious bodily injury. The court said testimony did not show that Aziz intended to kill the man, though Drescher noted that he clearly called Gurevitch a "Jewish pig."
"I think the court missed an opportunity to send a signal that it won't tolerate violence against another religion," said Prof. Salomon Korn, head of the Frankfurt Jewish community. "This sentence was very mild, and it did not send a clear message toward other Muslim and non-Muslim youth who might do the same."
Stephan Kramer, secretary-general of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, agreed. "It's very disappointing and disturbing that the judges viewed the attack less severely than they could have. It's absurd that they didn't charge him for murder," said Kramer.
According to Kramer, the sentence may reflect German authorities' desire "to calm the situation so that the world doesn't see people on the streets of Germany attacking Jews. It's a very bad signal towards certain very violent anti-Semitic people we have in Germany."
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