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Muslim woman Samar Allaham, center, fixes the Jewish kippah on her head besides the Muslim woman Iman Jamous, right, during a demonstration against antisemitism in Germany in Erfurt, Germany, Wednesday, April 25, 2018.
(AP Photo/Jens Meyer)
Citizenship

Muslims in Germany Wear Jewish Kippahs to Show Solidarity After Hate Crime

After a vicious anti-semitic attack occurred in Berlin last week, people from all walks of life came out to show their support for the Jewish community on Wednesday, according to the Independent.

Among them were scores of Muslims who wanted to counter the impression that they in any way tolerate anti-semitism by making a vivid display of interfaith community.

Some of the most widely shared photos of the protest, in fact, were of Muslim women donning kippahs over their hijabs, a gesture of cultural harmony.

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"Today, we all wear kippah. Today, Berlin is wearing kippah,” Berlin’s Mayor Michael Mueller told a large crowd that gathered in the capital for  a “kippah march,” during which people wore personalized kippahs or yarmulkes, the Jewish cloth cap, according to the Independent.

The attack that prompted the demonstrations in Berlin and beyond happened last week, the Independent reports. A 19-year old Syrian asylum seeker began whipping a Jewish man who was wearing a kippah with his belt while shouting “Yahudi!," which means Jew in Arabic.

The incident was captured on film and quickly went viral, sparking outrage, fear, and calls for solidarity, CNN notes.

That call for action was met this week when people gathered in major cities across the country. It was an encouraging display of solidarity, according to Jewish men and women who spoke with media outlets.

"As Jews, we want to be able to move freely, whether with kippah or without," Richard Borgmann, a 65-year old Jewish resident of Berlin who lost several relatives to the Holocaust, told the Independent. "We want to be able to practice religion in peace and not be discriminated against and not live in fear. And this event tonight is a sign and an important one."

In fact, Jewish leaders said it was the largest display of interfaith solidarity since before World War II, according to the Independent.

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Anti-semitism has been rising in Germany and throughout Europe more broadly, according to the Associated Press, with attacks becoming more brutal and harassment becoming more routine.  

“Neither the public nor the private space is perceived as safe for Jews,” Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, told the AP. “The general feeling shared by Jews, as individuals and as a community, is that anti-Semitism has entered a new phase, and is widespread in most parts of the world.”

“The religious dimension of classic, traditional anti-Semitism has returned, and the term ‘Jew’ has become an insult,” he added.

In Germany, there were nearly four anti-semitic incidents per day in 2017.

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This rise can be attributed to the growth of far-right groups in the country and the influx of Muslim migrants and refugees, according to Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry, which releases a report on anti-semitism every year.

"We also have new phenomena [of antisemitism in Germany],” Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel told Israeli TV earlier this week. “We have refugees now, for example, or people of Arab origin who are bringing a different type of antisemitism into the country.”

Traditional European anti-semitism generally stems from Christian churches that blame the Jewish religion for the death of Jesus, while anti-semitism throughout the Muslim world is often attributed to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, according to the Independent.

As these two strains intensified in Germany, Merkel felt compelled to create a commissioner for Jewish life to promote tolerance and combat anti-semitism.

The “kippah march” earlier week was meant to assure Jewish people that public spaces remained safe, according to the CNN.

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"Jewish identity is not something we should hide," German Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal told the Independent. "We have to be proud of who we are and at the same time fight anti-semitism."

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