Syrian confesses to Berlin ‘Jewish’ attack: police
A German police spokesman says the man seen on the video trying to whip two young men wearing Jewish kippah hats had given himself into the police.
He was reportedly a 19-year-old from Syria.
The neither of the victims were Jewish. One was called Adam Armoush and is an Israeli citizen who comes from an Arab family in Israel and who studies in Germany. The other, Salah, is a German citizen with Moroccan roots who calls himself as an atheist, according to DW.
The two men said they were given the distinctive hats as gifts and were wearing them on their way to visit an Israeli friend in Berlin to experience what it was like to wear Jewish clothing in public.
“I was saying it’s really safe and I wanted to prove it, but it ended like that,” Armoush said.
The pair said they were taking selfies when they were abused in Arabic by the assailant, who tried to hit Armoush with his belt. Armoush, who filmed the incident in which two female onlookers intervened, said he told journalists who asked after the attack that he was not Jewish.
Chancellor Angela Merkel called the attack in the city’s fashionable Prenzlauer Berg “a very horrible incident” and vowed that the authorities would respond “with full force and resolve” against growing anti-Semitism.
The Anti-Semitism Research and Information Office said it had counted 947 instances of anti-Semitism in Berlin last year: a 60-per-cent increase from 2016.
“This is the highest number since we began collecting data,” said project director Benjamin Steinitz. “People in Berlin are confronted on a daily basis with anti-Semitism. On average we find out about two to three incidents a day.”
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeted: “Jews shall never again feel threatened here. It’s our responsibility to protect Jewish life here.”
The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) blamed this week’s attack on the 2015 migrant crisis with AfD co-chairman Jörg Meuthen tweeting that Germany had become “the world’s leading importer – of Muslim anti-Semitism”.
But Steinitz said it was too simplistic to blame everything on migrants.
“We see that incidents perpetrated by people of Arab origin attract special attention and are often connected with reductions of the problem to so-called imported anti-Semitism. But there was always anti-Semitism here. The problem didn’t start in 2015.”
Berlin’s New Synagogue was originally built from 1859 to 1866 and heavily damaged by Allied bombing during the Second World War. Picture credit: Flickr