NEWS
26/04/2018 1:20 AM IST | Updated 26/04/2018 1:30 AM IST

Germans Don Kippas In Solidarity With Jewish Groups Alarmed By Anti-Semitism

TOBIAS SCHWARZ via Getty Images
More than 2,000 Jews and non-Jews in Berlin wore the traditional skullcap to show solidarity with Jews.

Jews and their allies donned kippas and joined in public marches across Germany Wednesday, a response to growing concerns about anti-Semitism in the country.

The call from Jewish community leaders for the public solidarity events came a week after an attack on two men wearing skullcaps in Berlin. Marches were held in the capital, Erfurt, Cologne and Potsdam, The Associated Press reported.

A video of the attack went viral in Germany, eliciting condemnation from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as Jewish and Muslim groups. The suspect, a 19-year-old Syrian asylum-seeker, turned himself in to police Thursday.

TOBIAS SCHWARZ via Getty Images
A participant of the 'Berlin Wears Kippa' rally.

Last week’s attack follows reports of a spate of previous anti-Semitic incidents that have troubled the country’s Jewish communities in recent months. Jewish students have reported being bullied at school because of their religion, according to The Local Germany. A 2017 study commissioned by the German parliament found that the country averaged four anti-Semitic incidents per day. Around 95 percent of the cases were reportedly carried out by right-wing extremists, according to Deutsche Welle. 

Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, suggested on a Berlin public radio program this week that Jews should avoid wearing traditional skullcaps in the country’s big cities.

But other Jewish leaders are urging the community to march in public and wear the kippa with pride.

TOBIAS SCHWARZ via Getty Images
Berlin's mayor Michael Mueller (C) speaks during the "Berlin Wears Kippa" event.

“Jewish identity is not something we should hide,” Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal, an Orthodox rabbi in Berlin, told the AP. “We have to be proud of who we are and at the same time fight anti-Semitism.”

More than 2,000 people took part in Wednesday’s “Berlin Wears Kippa” event in the capital, according to Reuters. The event featured speeches from Jewish and Christian leaders, as well as local politicians.

In the eastern city of Erfurt, about 150 people joined a solidarity rally, according to the AP. A representative for ACHAVA Festspiele Thüringen, the interfaith group that organized the city’s march, told HuffPost it was attended by local politicians and Catholic, Protestant and Muslim community leaders. 

The German daily newspaper Tagesspiegel offered a photo of a kippa on its website for readers to print, cut out and wear for the solidarity marches.

A post shared by Tagesspiegel (@tagesspiegel) on

Anti-immigrant groups in Germany have blamed the anti-Semitic attacks on the arrival of more than 1.6 million migrants since 2014, many from the Middle East.

German Muslim groups have spoken out against the rise of anti-Semitism in their country. The country’s Central Council of Muslims is listed as a supporter of Wednesday’s solidarity march and has long condemned anti-Semitic attacks in Europe. Its president, Aiman Mazyek, told a regional newspaper that “there is anti-Semitism present among some refugees.” Mazyek said that the council was running educational programs for refugees, including organizing trips to former concentration camps and meetings with Jewish neighbors. 

“Anti-Semitism, racism and hatred are great sins in Islam, therefore we will also never tolerate that,” Mazyek told the regional Rheinische Post.

BODO SCHACKOW via Getty Images
German politician Bodo Ramelow (L) and Mailk Mohamed Suleman from the Muslim Ahmadiyya community pose next to an ad for the 'Thuringia Wears Kippa' rally in Erfurt.

Gokay Sofuoglu, the leader of Turkish Communities in Germany, an umbrella organization for Turkish groups in the country, told a local paper that the fight against anti-Semitism is crucial. 

“If you want to fight Islamophobia, then you can’t tolerate anti-Semitism either. And we know where anti-Semitism ended up in German history,” Sofuoglu said, according to Reuters.

See more photos from the solidarity marches in Germany below. 

  • TOBIAS SCHWARZ via Getty Images
    A participant of the 'Berlin Wears Kippa' rally on April 25, 2018.
  • Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters
    People wear kippas as they attend a demonstration in front of a Jewish synagogue in Berlin.
  • TOBIAS SCHWARZ via Getty Images
  • TOBIAS SCHWARZ via Getty Images
  • TOBIAS SCHWARZ via Getty Images
    Berlin's mayor Michael Mueller (C) is applauded by Rabbis Yitshak Ehrenberg (2ndR) and Yehuda Teichtal (R) during the event.
  • Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters
  • TOBIAS SCHWARZ via Getty Images
  • TOBIAS SCHWARZ via Getty Images
  • Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters
  • Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters
  • TOBIAS SCHWARZ via Getty Images
  • TOBIAS SCHWARZ via Getty Images
  • Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters
  • TOBIAS SCHWARZ via Getty Images
  • Thomas Muller / ACHAVA Festspiele Thuringen
    Participants march to a Jewish synagogue in Erfurt order to show solidarity against anti-Semitism.
  • BODO SCHACKOW via Getty Images
    A participant at the 'Thuringia Wears Kippa' rally in Erfurt.
  • BODO SCHACKOW via Getty Images
    Thuringia's State Premier Bodo Ramelow (C) wears a kippa during the rally.
  • BODO SCHACKOW via Getty Images
  • Thomas Muller / ACHAVA Festspiele Thuringen
  • BODO SCHACKOW via Getty Images
    Thuringia's State Premier Bodo Ramelow (L) and Mailk Mohamed Suleman from the Muslim Ahmadiyya community pose for a picture during the Erfurt rally.
  • Michael Gottschalk via Getty Images
    Activists holding a sign during a rally in front of Cologne Cathedral on April 25, 2018, in Cologne, Germany.
  • Michael Gottschalk via Getty Images
  • Michael Gottschalk via Getty Images
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