A Jewish man in Germany has filed a constitutional complaint to have a medieval antisemitic church sculpture removed after his case was defeated in a federal court.

The “Judensau” carving on a church in Wittenberg in Saxony-Anhalt dates from the 13th century and depicts Jews doing lewd acts to a pig.

The constitutional complaint filed by Michael Düllmann, who converted to Judaism in 1978, was made after his claim was defeated in the Federal Court of Justice (BGH), Der Tagesspiegel reported.

Düllmann’s lawyers have requested that the BGH ruling be overturned so the case can be transferred back to the Court of Justice.

Düllmann had previously urged that the antisemitic carving be removed from the church and for it to be placed in a museum where its hateful message could be properly explained in a historical context.

The decision by the BHG was met with shock and condemnation. The judge ruled that the plaintiff did not have the right to demand the removal of the carving because it found no “present infringement of rights” and due to the church installing a plaque and display nearby clarifying its position on antisemitism, which the court said was sufficient to show that the church had distanced itself from the statue’s hateful intent.

The Central Council of Jews in Germany reacted with outrage to the ruling by the German Federal Court of Justice (BGH) upholding previous rulings by lower courts that the Judensau (“Jew pig”) sculpture could stay on the historic church.

“The BGH’s ruling that the sculpture does not have to be removed is understandable. However, I cannot follow the BGH’s reasoning,” Central Council President Josef Schuster said, according to the Jüdische Allgemeine.

“The defamation of Jews by churches must be a thing of the past once and for all,” Schuster added. “Both the Wittenberg church community and the churches as a whole must now urgently find a clear and appropriate solution for dealing with sculptures that are hostile to Jews.”