Thrashed by 'Arabic-speaking group', video of alleged anti-Semitic attack sparks outrage in Germany

Berlin: German political and religious leaders expressed shock over an alleged anti-Semitic attack on two men wearing traditional Jewish skullcaps in central Berlin filmed by one of the victims. One of the young men targetted, who captured the incident on his smartphone, said they were confronted by three Arabic-speakers shouting insults at them, one of whom lashed out at him with a belt.

Berlin police in their report on Tuesday's suspected anti-Semitic attack said that the suspect later also threatened his victim with a glass bottle. In a twist to the story, the author of the video tape, which went viral on social media, a 21-year-old student called Adam, said Wednesday that he is an Israeli Arab.

He told broadcaster Deutsche Welle that he wore the Jewish kippa gifted to him by a friend to see whether it was safe to do so on the streets of his upmarket Berlin neighbourhood. He said he filmed the attack as evidence "for the police and for the German people and even the world to see how terrible it is these days as a Jew to go through Berlin streets".

"I'm not Jewish, I'm Israeli," he said. "I grew up in Israel in an Arabian family and I think that it was an experience for me to wear the kippa." The video shows the attacker shouting "yahudi", Jew in Arabic, and later a bruise on Adam's torso.

 Thrashed by Arabic-speaking group, video of alleged anti-Semitic attack sparks outrage in Germany

Representational image. AFP

The incident was described as a "disgrace" for German democracy by a spokeswoman for Chancellor Angela Merkel and by Justice Minister Katarina Barley. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Germany "bears a responsibility to protect Jewish life" more than 70 years after the end of the Holocaust in which the Nazis murdered six million European Jews.

In a video interview with Bild newspaper, Adam said the main attacker seemed to have a "Syrian dialect".

"I am very sad but at the same time I'm happy that we were able to achieve something with the video," he said, speaking fluent German. "I hope the police will be able to find the attackers soon -- the police were very responsive." The head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Joseph Schuster, told AFP he was "shocked" by the incident, noting that it had occurred in a "bourgeois" area and not in a "majority Muslim quarter".

"This case must be met with the full force of the law," he said. A number of high-profile incidents in recent months have raised alarm bells about a possible resurgence of anti-Semitism in Germany from both the far-right and a large influx of predominantly Muslim asylum-seekers since 2015.

Merkel created a new position of commissioner to fight anti-Semitism under her new coalition government sworn in last month.

Updated Date: Apr 19, 2018 08:47:52 IST