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Munich prays for shopping mall shooting victims

July 31, 2016

President Gauck and Chancellor Merkel joined Munich's residents in paying tribute to the nine victims who died in a mass shooting on July 22. The massacre was one in a series of hate attacks in Germany in the last weeks.

Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Schrader

Munich memorial

Munich's residents, including Christians and Muslims, gathered at the landmark Gothic Frauenkirche on Sunday to pay their respects to the victims.

Dhari Hajer, head of the city's Muslim council, led the prayer, saying, "Protect this beautiful city and its inhabitants… and protect it from falling into the vicious cycle of hate and violence."

A Twitter message by public broadcaster "Bayerischer Rundfunk" quoted Hajer as saying, "Allah, help us to imbibe that we all are the children of Adam."

Prominent attendees at the gathering included Bavaria's Chief Minister Horst Seehofer, German President Joachim Gauck, Chancellor Angela Merkel and television anchor Thomas Gottschalk.

Speaking at Munich's parliament later on Sunday, the German president said that an alert and active civil society, working together with the state, could offer the best protection against cynical mass murderers. "We will remain what we are - a humane society united in solidarity," Gauck said, adding that terrorists "will not force us to hate as they hate."

He also insisted that society introspect on what led people to such violence and since these attacks took place well in advance, ensure that the perpetrators were not left alone or marginalized.

DW journalist Jens Thurau reported from the event:

Investigators said that 18-year-old German-Iranian Ali David S., who had gunned down nine people in Munich's Olympia shopping mall on July 22, was a depressed teen and obsessed with mass killings.

He was reportedly attracted to extremist right-wing ideology and obsessed with mass killings and sought refuge in violent computer games. In an interview with German weekly "Bild am Sonntag," the attacker's father said that his son was bullied and that he had spoken to his teacher about the problem, to no effect.

"Our lives in Munich have been destroyed," Ali David S.' father told reporters, adding that he and his wife were getting death threats.

Germany has experienced several hate attacks in the past month. Earlier in July, a 17-year-old refugee stabbed several people in a train in the Bavarian city of Würzburg. Shortly after, Ali David S. gunned down nine people, mostly Muslims, in Munich's shopping mall. The incident was followed by another stabbing by a refugee in Reutlingen, in Baden Wuerttemberg. On July 24, a Syrian refugee injured dozens when he blew himself up outside a music festival in Ansbach, also in Bavaria.

mg/rc (Reuters, AFP)