Germany: Three assailants attack two youths wearing yarmulkes in the capital
Deutsche-Presse Agentur (DPA) reported on 18 April that three unidentified assailants attacked two youths wearing yarmulkes, the traditional Jewish head covering for men, in Berlin. One of those assaulted was an Israeli citizen who filmed the incident.
In an interview for Deutsche Welle, the assaulted 21-year-old man said he is not actually Jewish. He grew up in an Arab family in Israel.
The attack was vigorously condemned by German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), who said Germany would prosecute it with all the determination and severity necessary. The assault was committed on the evening of Tuesday, 17 April in Berlin's Prenzlauer Berg quarter.
The Israeli and his 24-year-old German companion were first targeted by the attackers with antisemitic insults before one of the attackers took off his belt and began beating the pair with it. From the video footage of the incident that has been disseminated online in the interim it is apparent that the assailant is shouting "Jew" in Arabic at the victims.
The three aggressors then fled the scene. It later came to light that the Israeli who was attacked is not Jewish.
Reportedly the youth was wearing the yarmulke as a test. A friend of his had allegedly warned him that if a man wears a yarmulke in Germany, he is not safe.
When asked why he filmed the incident, he explained to Deutsche Welle that "I wanted to have evidence for the police and for the Germans to see, and basically for the world to see, how horrible it is for a person to walk down the street in Berlin as a Jew." The case has sparked outrage in Germany, which is clearly aware of its responsibility for the Holocaust.
Many politicians have condemned the attack, including Merkel, who said it was horrifying. "We must win the fight against such antisemitic rioting," she emphasized at an afternoon press conference after meeting with the Prime Ministers from the states on the territory of former East Germany.
"The Federal Government will do all it can to achieve that," she said. The case comes at a time of increasing reports of antisemitic incidents, DPA reported.
Most recently there was a case reported in Berlin of a schoolgirl who was subjected to sectarian abuse by her fellow pupils, who were Muslim, because of her Jewish religion. Arab demonstrators have recently set Israeli flags on fire in Germany as well.
RIAS, a Berlin-based center that follows antisemitism, recorded 18 assaults and 23 specific threats with that motive last year. According to the local Jewish community there are about 20 000 Jews living in Berlin today.
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