Two years after a terrorist attack in the east German town of Halle that left two people dead, Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews, said that more needed to be done in the fight against anti-Semitism and right-wing extremism.
“The spread and incitement of hate, for example in the form of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories via social media, is a massive problem,” Schuster told DPA.
On October 9th 2019, a heavily armed right-wing extremist called Stephan Balliet tried to enter the Halle city synagogue on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.
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When he failed to do so, he shot a 40-year-old passerby. He later killed a 20-year-old man at a kebab shop. While trying to escape, the 28-year-old injured several people before he was caught by the police.
The city of Halle is commemorating the event on Saturday, with wreaths to be laid at the scene of the crime. Reiner Haseloff, state leader of Saxony-Anhalt, is expected to attend.
Balliet was sentenced to life in prison in 2020 by the Naumburg Higher Regional Court. His sentence will be followed by preventive detention.
Funs for synagogue security
While praising the German government for introducing a law that makes social media companies responsible for hateful content posted on their sites, Schuster said that the legislation needed to be extended to messenger services such as Telegram.
“We must do everything we can to ensure that the internet is not a lawless space,” he said.
According to Schuster, the German government reacted quickly after the Halle attack by providing money to improve security at Jewish institutions.
This was an important step, he said. “However, there is still much to be done at the political and social level to combat growing anti-Semitism.”