German government calls on people to wear the kippah

German official withdraws earlier warning against wearing kippah after Merkel's spokesman intervenes.

Ben Ariel,

Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel
Reuters

The German government has called on people to wear the kippah ahead of an anti-Israel protest as a demonstration of solidarity and as Jews face a spike in anti-Semitism, AFP reported on Monday, withdrawing an earlier warning against wearing the traditional skullcap.

Felix Klein, Germany's government commissioner on anti-Semitism, warned Jews over the weekend about the potential dangers of wearing the traditional kippah skullcap in the face of rising anti-Jewish attacks.

"I cannot advise Jews to wear the kippah everywhere all the time in Germany," Felix Klein said in an interview published Saturday by the Funke regional press group.

In issuing the warning, he said he had "alas, changed my mind (on the subject) compared to previously."

The comments caused an uproar, with President Reuven Rivlin voicing shock at Klein's warning and saying was a "capitulation to anti-Semitism" and evidence that Jews are unsafe in Germany.

Late on Monday, Klein reversed course after Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman intervened.

"The state must see to it that the free exercise of religion is possible for all... and that anyone can go anywhere in our country in full security wearing a kippa," the spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told a press conference.

In his latest statement to Funke, Klein then said, "I call on all citizens of Berlin and across Germany to wear the kippah next Saturday if there are new, intolerable attacks targeting Israel and Jews on the occasion of Al-Quds day in Berlin."

Al-Quds is the annual Iranian event against Israel and will take place on Saturday. During Al-Quds Day, rallies are held around the world and are used to incite against Israelis and Jews.

Klein also addressed his earlier statements, saying that he "could no longer recommend that Jews wear the kippah everywhere in Germany should be taken as an alarm signal."

On Monday, in a show of solidarity with Jews, the German daily Bild published a cut-out-and-use kippah.

The newspaper called on readers to "stand in solidarity with (their) Jewish neighbors" by making "their own kippah", bearing the star of David, to "raise the flag against anti-Semitism".

Anti-Semitic crimes rose by 20 percent in Germany last year, according to interior ministry data which blamed nine out of 10 cases on the extreme right.

A report released last summer found that Germany had seen an increased number of attacks on Jews during the first half of 2018.

In November, Merkel condemned what she called a "worrying" resurgence of anti-Semitism in Germany.

Several anti-Semitic incidents have taken place in Germany over the past year, including earlier this month when an Israeli musician was attacked by a mob of Arabs at an anti-Israel event in Berlin.




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