Crime is being probed as an attempted murder with anti-Semitic intent; Merkel calls act a disgrace
German investigators said on Monday that they were probing an attack on a Jewish student outside a synagogue in Hamburg as attempted murder with anti-Semitic intent, a case condemned by Chancellor Angela Merkel as a “disgrace”.
The 26-year-old student was badly injured on Sunday by a man who repeatedly struck him on the head with a shovel outside the synagogue where the Jewish community was celebrating Sukkot, also known as the Feast of the Tabernacles.
The assault came a year after two people were shot dead by an extremist who tried and failed to storm a synagogue in the eastern German city of Halle.
Jewish leaders and top politicians led condemnation of the latest attack, which Ms. Merkel’s spokesman described as a “repulsive” assault.
“Such an attack is repulsive, no matter what investigations about the motivation and the condition of the perpetrator might show,” said spokesman Steffen Seibert.
“And it must be clearly stated by everyone in this society: in Germany, every such act is a disgrace.”
The suspect, 29, was arrested by police officers who were assigned to protect the synagogue in the northern city.
Dressed in combat fatigues, he had a piece of paper with a hand-drawn swastika in his pocket, said police and prosecutors in a statement.
“The current assessment of the situation suggests that this is an anti-Semitic motivated attack,” they said, adding that investigators are treating the case as “attempted murder with grievous bodily harm”.
Ronald Lauder, leader of the World Jewish Congress, demanded action, saying that the attacker “must be held responsible as must all who engage in any expressions of hate or intolerance”.
Anti-Semitic crimes have increased steadily in Germany in recent years with 2,032 offences recorded in 2019, up 13% on the previous year.