A German government watchdog has issued a warning to Jews not to wear skullcaps for their own safety, amid growing concern over a rise in anti-Semitic attacks.
Felix Klein, the German government’s official anti-Semitism commissioner, warned at the weekend that it is not safe to wear traditional yarmulke or kippah skullcaps in public.
“I cannot recommend Jews to wear the kippah at any time, anywhere in Germany,” Mr Klein said in an interview with several local newspapers. “Sadly I have to say this. My evaluation of the situation has changed.”
Mr Klein’s warning comes a year after similar advice from Germany’s largest Jewish organisation, and follows a disturbing increase in anti-Semitic attacks.
According to official figures, 1,799 hate crimes were committed against Jewish people in Germany last year, an increase of more than 10 per cent compared to 2017. They included 62 cases of violence against Jews, up from 37 in 2017.
IHRA working definition | Anti-Semitism
There has been concern in recent years that Muslim immigration could be fuelling the rise in violence against Jews, but an official report published earlier this month found that 90 per cent of 2017’s anti-Semitic attacks came from the far-Right scene.
Mr Klein blamed “increasing social disinhibition and brutalization” for the rise. “The Internet and social media have contributed greatly to this, as well as the continued attacks on our culture of remembrance,” he said, referring to German attitudes to the Holocaust.
Björn Höcke, a senior politician from the Alternative for Germany party (AfD), called in 2017 for a “180-degree turn” in the German culture of atonement for the crimes of the Second World War and described the national Holocaust memorial as a “shameful monument”.
The head of Germany’s largest Jewish organisation backed Mr Klein’s warning. “It has long been the case that Jews are at risk in some major cities if they are recognizable as Jews,” Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews, told Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
“It is therefore to be welcomed if this situation gets more attention at the highest political level.”
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