Germany’s Chancellor Merkel warns on anti-Semitism ahead of Gaza protests

Germany's Chancellor Merkel warns on anti-Semitism ahead of Gaza protests
German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a press conference in the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, on May 21st, 2021. Michael Sohn / POOL / AFP
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday warned against any show of anti-Semitic or racist behaviour ahead of expected weekend pro-Palestinian rallies in the wake of days of fighting in the Middle East.

Several German cities saw pro-Palestinian demonstrations during the deadly 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement which controls the Gaza Strip, prompting Merkel to issue a call for calm.

READ ALSO: Germany slams ‘anti-Semitic’ demos and Hamas ‘terrorist attacks’

“Those who bear hatred towards Jews in the street, those who incite racial hatred put themselves outside our Basic Law,” Merkel declared in her weekly podcast.
 
“Such acts must be punished severely,” she insisted.

Merkel noted that Germany’s constitution “guarantees the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. But it offers no place for attacks on people of a different confession, no place for violence, racism or denigration” of others and their beliefs.
 
German police made some 60 arrests last Saturday while some 100 officers were hurt as a pro-Palestinian rally in Berlin turned violent.

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Some participants at marches in towns across Germany shouted anti-Semitic slogans, which Merkel blasted as “unacceptable”. Others burned Israeli flags
and, in one case, stoned the entrance to a synagogue.

More demonstrations in support of the Palestinians were scheduled for this weekend, in Berlin and in other cities.

On Saturday, a Jew from Berlin filed a complaint to say he had been attacked overnight by three unidentified men, police said.

The 41-year-old man, who was wearing a kippa at the time, said he was first insulted, then hit in the face, before his attackers fled the scene.

The authorities in Germany are worried about a resurgence of anti-Semitism from the far-right, notably since the October 2019 attempted attack against a
synagogue in the eastern city of Halle carried out by neo-Nazi Holocaust deniers.

The growing Jewish community in Germany numbers in the hundreds of thousands, many of them from the former Soviet Union.


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