Belgian authorities have announced additional security measures for the Jewish community in the city of Antwerp following this week’s terrorist attack in Vienna.
According to a report in Algemeiner, Antwerp Mayor Bart De Wever said on Tuesday that the decision had been taken based on police intelligence reports indicating a rising risk.
Michael Freilich, a spokesperson for the Antwerp community, advised “extra vigilance” in the coming weeks.
“The Jewish community in our country is in full alert after the attack in Vienna,” he said in a statement.
“Synagogues and Jewish cultural centers are closed, but a number of schools provide emergency accommodation and kosher supermarkets are of course also open,” Freilich added. “The mayor of Antwerp immediately had extra security measures activated, for which the Jewish community is grateful.”
According to OCAD, the Belgian government agency responsible for analyzing terrorist threats, Antwerp’s community is facing a “Level 3” threat, indicating serious possibility of a terrorist attack, according to Algemeiner.
About 12,000 of Belgium's 40,000 Jews live in Antwerp, which also is the location of two thirds of the country's synagogues and a significant hasidic community.
The community has experienced incidents of anti-Semitism. In 2018, a Jewish father and son were nearly rammed by a local Muslim as they walked to synagogue on Shabbat. The pair managed to jump out of the way just before the car reached them.
Several months earlier, a Jewish man in Antwerp was physically assaulted as he made his way home from synagogue on a Friday night. The victim was accosted by a local youth, who hurled anti-Semitic epithets at him.
The assailant, who apparently is a recent convert to Islam, then physically assaulted the haredi man, punching him in the face and leaving him injured.