Jews, Christians and Muslims took to the streets of Berlin on the weekend, in support of a rabbi who was brutally attacked last week. Rabbi Daniel Alter praised the "wonderful outpouring of moral support."
Alter joined around 1,500 demonstrators on Sunday near the scene of the attack in Berlin's Schöneberg district.
It followed a rally on Saturday, when hundreds took to the streets wearing traditional Jewish skullcaps in a show of solidarity.
Alter was approached by several young men as he walked down the road with his six-year-old daughter last Tuesday. They asked him whether he was Jewish and when he said yes, they beat him and threatened to kill his child. The attackers presumably identified the victim as Jewish from the traditional skullcap, the “kippa” he was wearing.
The 53-year-old Alter, who later underwent surgery for a cheekbone fracture, described his attackers as Arab-looking. They have not yet been found.
On Saturday, Berlin's interior minister, Frank Henkel, again condemned what he described as a “cowardly attack.“
Domestic and international outrage
The news of the attack triggered a discussion whether Jews in general had to fear for their safety in the German capital.
The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dieter Graumann, called Friday on the country's large Muslim community to do more to combat anti-Semitism.
Aiman Mazyek, chairman of the Central Council of Muslims, condemned the attack and professed solidarity and empathy with all Jews in Germany. Other Muslim associations joined in the condemnation of all religious hate and violence.
Protestant Bishop Markus Dröge of Berlin warned Saturday against blanket accusations of violent anti-Semitism being prevalent among Muslims in Germany.
“We should not make the mistake of blaming this on religion,” he said, pointing to a prevalence of violent behavior among socially disadvantaged young men independent of their beliefs.
The Federal Office for Criminal Investigation has registered 436 anti-Semitic attacks across the country this year. Most of them were property attacks such as swastika graffiti, or verbal abuse. The German news agency dpa reported 13 attacks involving physical violence.
Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit opened Saturday's “night of religions” event in the German capital with an appeal for religious tolerance.
Catholic and Protestant churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship were open to the public until late into the night.
Rabbi Alter will be the guest on our talkshow "Agenda" on dw-tv this Tuesday (4.9.2012). Check out broadcast times at www.dw.de/english/agenda, where you can also find a recording after the show.
rg, jr/pfd (dpa, KNA, epd, AFP)