10 arrested in Germany after man is punched in alleged anti-Semitic attack

Both victim and suspects reportedly Syrians; victim was wearing a Star of David, which police say was ripped from his neck by a man spewing ‘anti-Semitic insults’

A police car stands outside a refugee shelter on February 4, 2016, in Attendorn after a raid during which a suspect was arrested. (AFP/dpa/Bernd Thissen)
A police car stands outside a refugee shelter on February 4, 2016, in Attendorn after a raid during which a suspect was arrested. (AFP/dpa/Bernd Thissen)

German police arrested 10 people Sunday over an alleged anti-Semitic attack in a Berlin park.

The group, aged between 15 and 25, including three women, were detained following the assault in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Police did not give the names or nationalities of the suspects or the victim, but German daily Welt reported that all involved are Syrians.

Police said the victim had approached the group in a park to borrow a lighter, but his cigarette was snatched away.

The 25-year-old was wearing a chain with a Star of David, which police said was ripped from the victim’s neck by one of the men, while spewing “anti-Semitic insults.”

The attacker allegedly repeatedly punched the victim in the face, before fleeing.

The victim was treated in a hospital after suffering cuts to the head.

Police added that the three female suspects aged 15 to 21 and seven men aged 17 to 25 were subsequently released, but that a special branch of investigators dealing with politically motivated crimes has taken over the case.

Germany was shocked by a case of anti-Semitism in April involving a Syrian migrant who lashed out with his belt at an Arab Israeli man wearing a kippa. A video of the street assault, filmed by the victim on his smartphone, sparked widespread public revulsion, as it spread on social media, and triggered street rallies in solidarity with Jews.

A court has convicted Knaan al-Sebai, 19, a Syrian migrant of Palestinian origin, on assault charges and he was sentenced to four weeks of juvenile detention for the attack.

Sunday’s 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 captured nearly 13 percent of the vote in the general election in September, has broken a taboo by repeatedly challenging Germany’s “remembrance culture” and atonement for the Nazi era.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, speaking with Israeli television in April, said she was “saddened” that her country has not been able to snuff out anti-Semitism for good, and that to this day, Jewish schools, kindergartens and synagogues require police protection.

“We have refugees now, for example, or people of Arab origin, who bring a different type of anti-Semitism into the country,” she said. “But unfortunately, anti-Semitism existed before this.”

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