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Syrian given four weeks' detention for belt attack on Israeli

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Syrian given four weeks' detention for belt attack on Israeli
Footage from the attack. Source: Facebook/Jewish Forum for Democracy
08:48 CEST+02:00
A German court Monday convicted a young Syrian man on assault charges for lashing out with his belt at an Israeli man wearing a Jewish kippa skullcap.

Knaan al-Sebai, 19, was sentenced to four weeks' juvenile detention for the assault and insulting speech, but was allowed to walk free, having already served over two months in pre-trail detention.

The judge also ordered Sebai to visit an exhibition near Berlin on the Wannsee Conference, where the Nazis planned the Holocaust, "to get an idea of the values we share in Germany" as a result of the country's dark past.

"I made a mistake and I have learnt from it," Sebai told the Berlin court, after earlier denying the April 17 attack was motivated by anti-Semitism and testifying that he had been under the influence of drugs.

A video of the street assault, filmed by the victim on his smartphone, had sparked widespread public revulsion as it spread on social media, and triggered street rallies in solidarity with Jews.

The footage shows the attacker, one of a group of three, shouting "yahudi" -- Jew in Arabic -- before striking the victim, leaving him injured.

The victim, a 21-year-old veterinary student, later revealed that he is not Jewish but an Israeli Arab called Adam, who was walking at the time with a German-Moroccan friend aged 24.

Solidarity marches

The attack was the latest to raise alarm bells about renewed anti-Semitism in Germany from both the far-right and a large influx of predominantly Muslim asylum seekers since 2015.

The anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party, which garnered nearly 13 percent of the vote in elections last September, has broken a taboo by challenging Germany's "remembrance culture" and atonement for the Nazi era.

AfD co-leader Alexander Gauland has described the Nazi period as a "speck of bird shit in over 1,000 years of successful German history".

News of the belt attack coincided with another public outcry, over a rap duo who made light of Nazi death camp prisoners but went on to win the music industry's sales-based Echo award, which was subsequently axed.

Days after the assault, some 2,000 people rallied at a "Berlin Wears Kippa" solidarity demonstration, matched by smaller events in several other German cities.

Germany's anti-Semitism commissioner Felix Klein hailed Monday's verdict, saying that it showed anti-Jewish hate speech and violence will be met with the full force of the law.

The Central Council of Jews in Germany said the case also showed that, when it comes to combating anti-Semitism, Germany "has some way to go when it comes to the schooling and integration of migrants".

 
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