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German Jews told not to wear skullcaps 'everywhere'; Israel's President expresses shock

ANI  |  Europe 

Felix Klein, the German government's anti-Semitism commissioner, asked the Jews to avoid wearing their traditional skullcaps or 'kippah caps' at all times and everywhere in the country.

In an interview with a German newspaper, Klein on Saturday said "my opinion has unfortunately changed compared with what it used to be" on the matter.

"I cannot recommend to Jews that they wear the skullcap at all times everywhere in Germany," he added. However, Klein didn't elaborate on what places and times might be risky, The Times of Israel reported.

Meanwhile, President Reuven Rivlin of Israel on Sunday said he was "shocked" over Klein's remarks which stressed that wearing a skullcap may not be safe for Jews in parts of the country, urging the government in Berlin not to accept this situation.

Klein's statement "shocked me deeply," Rivlin said in a statement quoted by The Times of Israel.

"Responsibility for the welfare, the freedom and the right to the religious belief of every member of the German Jewish community is in the hands of the German government and its law enforcement agencies," the president added.

He said, "We acknowledge and appreciate the moral position of the German government and its commitment to the Jewish community that lives there, but fears about the security of German Jews are a capitulation to anti-Semitism and an admission that, again, Jews are not safe on German soil."

"We will never submit, will never lower our gaze and will never react to anti-Semitism with defeatism -- and expect and demand our allies act in the same way," Rivlin added.

In his interview on Saturday, Klein, who last year became Germany's first-ever special envoy for Jewish life and combating anti-Semitism, blamed "increasing social disinhibition and brutality."

Klein's comments garnered a great deal of attention in Israel and Germany, though he had also expressed similar sentiments in the past.

In April 2018, Klein, who is not Jewish, told The Times of Israel in an interview that Jews can generally feel safe on Germany's streets, even when they are recognizably Jewish.

"But they have to be vigilant. It's not entirely without danger; one has to be alert. In the end, everyone has to assess the risks for himself. The danger is there. But I wouldn't necessarily agree with those who say it's absolutely impossible to show one's Jewishness in public in Germany," he said.

Asked if a Jew in today's Germany can wear a kippah in public without fear, Klein, replied: "In principle, yes. But not always."

Government statistics released earlier this month showed that the number of anti-Semitic and anti-foreigner incidents rose in Germany last year, despite an overall drop in politically motivated crimes.

To this, Klein also said better police training was needed to tackle the problem.

Anti-Semitic incidents rose by 19.6 per cent to 1,799 in 2018, with 89.1 per cent of them involving far-right perpetrators.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, May 27 2019. 01:28 IST