Germany: investigation opened after attack on Jewish student outside synagogue

The German police are investigating an anti-Semitic “attempted murder” of which a Jewish student in front of a synagogue in Hamburg was victim the day before, a “shame” denounced by Angela Merkel. “Everyone in this society must say it clearly: in Germany, every act of this kind is a disgrace”, reacted the spokesman of the government of the Chancellor, Steffen Seibert.

The victim, a 26-year-old Jewish student, was to enter a synagogue in Hamburg, a northern Hanseatic city, on Sunday to celebrate the feast of Sukkot, also known as the “feast of huts”, when she was violently attacked with a shovel to the head. The place of worship was filled with worshipers, according to German media. The attacked young man managed to take shelter and was taken care of for first aid by passers-by, before being hospitalized. He is “seriously injured,” police said.

Swastika

The alleged assailant, a 29-year-old German of Kazakh origin in army uniform, was immediately arrested by the police on duty in front of the place of worship, protected like all synagogues in Germany. Investigators found on him a sheet with a hand-drawn swastika. The man gave the impression of being “extremely confused”, which made his questioning very difficult, said Sunday, October 4, 2020 a spokeswoman for the Hamburg police, which is investigating in particular the origin of the uniform.

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“The assessment of the circumstances (of the attack) leads to an attack with anti-Semitic motives,” police said on Monday. The federal prosecutor’s office, responsible for the most sensitive cases, will lead the investigation opened for “attempted murder of an anti-Semitic nature”. Initial investigations have made it possible to rule out possible complicity. This attack comes nearly a year after an abortive attack on a synagogue in Halle (East) on Yom Kippur, the biggest Jewish holiday, October 9, 2019. Without being able to enter the building, the assailant, tried since the summer, had killed a passerby and then a young man in a snack bar in this town in the former GDR.

“Biggest threat”

In a country haunted by its past, the authorities are worried about a resurgence of anti-Semitism, fueled in particular by the far right. “This new attack on a Jewish holiday shows once again the importance of opening a debate on anti-Semitism, deeply rooted in German society, its context and the necessary countermeasures,” said the government commissioner for the fight against anti-Semitism, Felix Klein.

“The fact that the Jews of Germany are becoming more and more the target of hatred should not leave anyone indifferent in a democratic constitutional state like Germany”, for his part argued the president of the Central Council of Jews of Germany, Josef Schuster. He demanded that Hamburg “follow the example of other federal states” which have appointed, after attacks of an anti-Semitic nature, a person in charge of coordinating actions with regional Jewish authorities.

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Increase in the number of anti-Semitic acts

The number of crimes and offenses of an anti-Semitic or Islamophobic nature, the vast majority committed by far-right supporters, increased in Germany in 2019, according to the latest figures, made public on May 27 by the government. Acts of insult and attacks against Jews thus increased by 13% last year, to reach 2,032. “The greatest threat (against Jews) continues to come from right-wing extremism. 93.4% of anti-Semitic crimes have an extreme right-wing background ”, then warned the Minister of the Interior, Horst Seehofer.

The pandemic caused by the new coronavirus and the mobilization, quite followed, of opponents to the wearing of protective masks have also given rise to outbursts of anti-Semitism, demonstrators in particular attacking family processions. Rothschild or having assimilated the wearing of protection to that, compulsory for Jews during the Nazi period, of the yellow star.

Read also “In Germany, anti-Semitism no longer comes exclusively from the right”

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