Jews in Germany have been urged not to openly identify themselves as Jewish by wearing traditional kippahs, following anti-Semitic attacks in the country.
“Defiantly showing your colors would in principle be the right way to go,” Josef Schuster, the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said on Berlin public radio, according to the BBC. “Nevertheless, I would advise individual people against openly wearing a kippah in big German cities.”
Schuster’s comments come in anticipation of “Berlin Wears Kippah” solidarity march in Germany on Wednesday.
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One Jewish advocacy group agreed that anti-Semitism in the country is a growing concern, but disagreed with Schuster that hiding is the right response.
“I used to always advise my Jewish friends and acquaintances not to wear a kippah so as not to show their Jewish identity. I changed my opinion,” a spokesperson for the Berlin-based Jewish Forum for Democracy and Against Anti-Semitism said, according to the BBC.
“We must take up this fight and be visible again in public.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Israel’s Channel 10 that a “different type of anti-Semitism” is taking hold in her country.
In 2015, Merkel opened Germany’s borders, resulting in around 1 million refugees entering the country in 2015.
“We have refugees now, for example, or people of Arab origin, who bring a different type of anti-Semitism into the country,” Merkel said. “But unfortunately, anti-Semitism existed before this.”
The chancellor lamented the fact that Jews in Germany require constant protection, and said the German government has appointed a new commissioner to fight anti-Semitism.
“The fact that no kindergarten, no school, no synagogue can be left without police protection dismays us,” she said.
Two men wearing kippahs were attacked last week, an incident that made headlines across Germany.
Video of the incident was also posted on Facebook, which showed the attacker shouting “Yahudi” — the Arabic word for “Jew” — while hitting a 21-year-old Israeli with a belt.
According to NBC, a spokesperson for the Berlin Police said the suspect in the attack is a 19-year-old Syrian refugee.
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