Vienna Chief Rabbi: Terror attack ‘assault on coexistence, tolerance’

Chief Rabbi of Vienna Rabbi Jaron Engelmayer said terror attack designed to disturb peace and tranquility of Vienna, says the Jewish community is praying for the victims of the incident

Police officers stand guard on a street after exchanges of gunfire in Vienna, Austria November 3, 2020 (photo credit: LEONHARD FOEGER / REUTERS)
Police officers stand guard on a street after exchanges of gunfire in Vienna, Austria November 3, 2020
Vienna Chief Rabbi Jaron Engelmayer has condemned Monday night’s terrorist attack in the Austrian capital as an assault against coexistence in the city and against tolerance and peace in Austria.
It is still too early to tell if the attack targeted the Jewish community, he told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday morning. The Jewish community is in “a state of uncertainty” while information about the precise motives of the attack are collected, he said.
The Jewish community stands together with the victims of the attack and is praying for their recovery, Engelmayer said.
Three people were killed and 15 were wounded in the terrorist attack in central Vienna. Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said the assailant was “an Islamist terrorist” and an ISIS sympathizer.
“I totally condemn this attack, which was an assault against coexistence,” Engelmayer said. “Many communities live here side by side in peace and in tolerance, and this attack is designed to disturb that peace and tranquility.”
The Jewish community has always sought good relations with different sectors and religious communities in the city and would continue to do so, he said.
Engelmayer, who is a member of the Conference of European Rabbis, said the terrorist attack came as a shock to the city and the country, which has not had one for many years.
The security organization of the Jewish community was operating well and vigilantly in the wake of the attack, he said.
According to Erich Nuler, the Vienna Jewish community’s spokesperson for crisis response, one of the assailants shot at two civilians in front of the synagogue, and at least one civilian was hit by gunfire 100 meters from the synagogue.
One of the assailants, who was wearing a fake explosive belt, was shot dead close to the synagogue, Nuler said.
The synagogue, which handed over video surveillance footage from its security cameras to the security services, and the Jewish community and its security organization are in ongoing contact with the police and other security services, he said.
All Jewish institutions and establishments have been closed by the community leadership on the recommendation of the security services, including synagogues, schools, community offices, kosher restaurants and grocery stores.