(JTA) – Police in Uruguay confirmed the deadly attack on a Jewish businessman in the small town of Paysandu was motivated by anti-Semitism.
“I killed a Jew following Allah’s order,” the alleged assailant, 35, a substitute teacher identified by the initials C.O.E.L., told the officers on Wednesday, according to El Observador newspaper.
During the Tuesday night attack, he reportedly yelled “Allahu Akbar,” meaning “God is great” in Arabic, while stabbing David Fremd, 54, ten times in the back. Unnamed sources related to the investigation told the newspaper the attacker has “a religious bond with Islam.” The Justice Supreme Court’s spokesperson Raul Oxandabarat stated that the alleged assailant will undergo psychiatric examinations.
“We are monitoring each and every step of the situation and waiting for an official statement that confirms something really unprecedented has happened in the region,” said Claudio Epelman, Latin American Jewish Congress executive director.
B’nai B’rith, in a statement, said: “This is unacceptable to happen in a democracy like ours and deserves the most effusive and decisive condemnation,” adding it was “a brutal murder.”
The president of the Paysandu Israelite Society, Alejandro Wajner, declared that “acts of vandalism and threats” had occurred in the past against the local Jewish community. He added that the assailant was unknown in the area.
Last year, four fake bombs were found near the Israeli Embassy in Montevideo. In May of that same year, a report published by the El Dia local newspaper revealed that 1 in 5 Uruguayans disliked Jews and would feel bad if he or she had a Jewish family member.
Uruguay, a country located between Argentina and Brazil, is home to some 12,000 Jews.