Germany’s justice minister on Monday called an attack on a Jewish student outside a Hamburg synagogue a day earlier “a horrible act of violence.”
“The hatred against Jews is a disgrace for our country,” Christine Lambrecht said in a statement. “We have to further confront agitation against Jews and be there more for the victims of hatred and violence.”
The Jewish student was badly injured on Sunday after a man attacked him with a shovel outside a synagogue in the northern German city of Hamburg, police said.
The 26-year-old was struck repeatedly on the head as he was about to enter the synagogue in an attack denounced by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas as “repugnant anti-Semitism.”
“This is not an isolated case — this is repugnant anti-Semitism and we must all stand up against it,” Maas tweeted Sunday night.
Police assigned to protect the synagogue arrested a 29-year-old German man of Kazakh origin who was wearing a military-style uniform.
According to Germany’s dpa news agency, they found a piece of paper bearing a swastika in one of his pants pockets.
The victim managed to get himself away from his attacker and passersby gave him first aid before he was taken to the hospital, the agency added.
He was wearing a kippa at the time of the attack, The New York Times reported.
There was no official update on the victim’s condition Monday, but local daily Hamburger Abendblatt reported that while the man was in intensive care, his life was not in danger.
A police spokesman cited by dpa said the suspect seemed to be in a confused state, which made questioning him difficult.
Hamburg police and prosecutors said in a joint statement that the assault was being evaluated as attempted murder with an alleged anti-Semitic motive.
The Jewish community in Hamburg was celebrating the festival of Sukkot, and the synagogue was busy with congregants at the time of the attack.
A Hamburg rabbi said the community was “very, very shocked” by the assault.
“The question is: What have we not learned since Halle?” Rabbi Shlomo Bistritzky said.
Germany’s leading Jewish group said the attack “can only be classified as anti-Semitic.”
“The situation that Jews increasingly become a target of hatred, must not leave anybody cold in a state of law like Germany,” said Josef Schuster, the head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.
Last year’s attack on a synagogue in Halle came on October 9 on Yom Kippur, the holiest festival in the Jewish calendar.
The attacker killed a passerby and a man at a nearby kebab stall after failing to force his way into the building. A neo-Nazi suspect is currently on trial for the crime.
Only last month, Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke of her shame over rising anti-Semitism in Germany, even as the Jewish community warned the coronavirus was acting as a catalyst stirring up anti-Jewish hatred.
Anti-Semitic crimes have increased steadily in Germany in recent years with 2,032 anti-Semitic offenses recorded in 2019, up 13 percent on the previous year.
Germany is now home to the third-largest Jewish population in Western Europe, largely due to an influx of around 200,000 Jews following the collapse of the Soviet Union.