The suspect, a 20-year-old German with Palestinian roots, is reported to have repeatedly knocked the philosophy professor’s kippah from his head and shoved him. The offender allegedly shouted insults in German and English including the phrase “No Jews in Germany!”
When called to the scene, the police officers initially mistook the academic for the perpetrator. When he didn’t respond to their shouts to remain still and continued to fight back the officers overpowered the professor, cuffed him and punched him in the face.
When the officers realised their grave mistake the real offender was arrested and taken to a psychiatric clinic.
This unfortunate case of mistaken identity leaves many asking just how this could have happened and has resulted in several public and private apologies offered to the victim.
“We will not permit Jews to be persecuted in such a fashion ever again in Germany,” Herbert Reul, the North Rhine-Westphalia interior minister, told the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ). Reul offered an apology to the professor over the phone on Thursday and called the crime itself “abominable”.
Ursula Brohl-Sowa, chief of police in Bonn, has commented that this was “a terrible and unfortunate misunderstanding”. Brohl-Sowa is reported to have already met with the victim personally to apologise and has promised that the incident be officially investigated at police headquarters in Cologne.
This is not the first anti-semitic attack this year in Germany. Just this April reports of a kippah-wearing Israeli attacked with a belt in Berlin caused uproar. The 19-year-old attacker was found guilty of verbal abuse and battery and is currently serving a sentence for the crime.