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Antisemitism clampdown in Germany as Muslims urged to condemn Hamas

FILE - An Israeli man looks at a display at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, Tuesday, April 25, 2006.

Authorities in Bavaria announced on Tuesday they had searched the homes of 17 people suspected of inciting antisemitism. 

The raids in southern Germany came as Berlin called on Muslims inside the country to condemn Hamas' attacks against Israel. 

Officers' actions, which did not lead to any arrests, were conducted as part of a "day of action" against antisemitism. 

Authorities wanted to demonstrate "clearly" that inciting hatred against Jews "is not a minor infraction” and “deter potential agitators,” explained Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Hermann.

The suspects - two women and fifteen men aged between 18 and 62 - are suspected of having spread antisemitic content online. 

An investigation has been opened, detailed by the Munich public prosecutor's office.

Living in Munich and Nuremberg, the suspects are accused of being part of a WhatsApp group for a school class that shared antisemitic content. 

Phrases like "gas the Jews" and "Jewish sons" deserve nothing other than “to be massacred and exterminated” were allegedly posted by another suspect on their social media accounts.

Police officers seized mobile phones and computers which could be used “to find new avenues of investigation into other perpetrators of [antisemitic] acts”, said the Bavarian interior minister. 

Berlin urges Muslims to condemn Hamas

The war between Israel and Hamas has sparked increased vigilance in Germany towards antisemitism, with the country's perpetration of the Holocaust making it highly sensitive towards this issue.  

On Tuesday, Germany's Interior Minister called on Muslim organisations inside the country to condemn Hamas's 7 October attack in southern Israel, while warning against anti-Muslim racism. 

“I expect Muslim organisations to position themselves clearly and take responsibility in society,” said Nancy Faeser. “It must be clear, we stand with Israel.” 

However, she warned that efforts against antisemitism must not turn into islamophobia. 

FILE - A woman holds an Israeli flag during a rally in solidarity with Israel and those held hostage by Hamas in Gaza in Bucharest, Romania on Nov. 12, 2023. Andreea Alexandru/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.

“We must leave no room for those who make Muslims the cause of all evil,” said Faeser. “Those who today create a climate hostile to Muslims under the pretext of fighting antisemitism want to divide us and not unite us.”

The minister made the comments at the opening of two conferences in Berlin, bringing together representatives of the German government, Muslim organisations and the Jewish community. Fighting antisemitism and anti-Muslim racism are set to be prominent themes of the meeting.  

Around 5.5 million Muslims live in Germany, half of whom have German citizenship nationality, according to the Conference of German Islam. They represent around 6.6% of the country's population, making Muslims the second largest religious group behind Christians. 

Berlin has thrown its support behind Israel, providing the country with key military equipment it was now likely using in Gaza, Euronews revealed in November. 

Germany, where Israel's security is considered a "reason of state " because of the country's historical responsibility for the Holocaust, has one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe. 

The government estimates it numbers around 200,000 people, including some 100,000 practitioners.

Earlier this month, Chancellor Olaf Scholz promised Jews they would "never again" suffer from antisemitism in Germany, during commemorations for the 85th anniversary of "Kristallnacht", a night of antisemitism pogroms under the Nazis. 

Berlin has strengthened security measures around Jewish buildings and associations in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war. 

Like elsewhere in Europe, Germany has experienced a surge in antisemitic crimes since conflict in the Middle East broke out. Islamophobia has also increased. 

Incidents have ranged from inciting hatred and aggression, especially during demonstrations, to property damage. 

Hamas' attack on Israel at the start of October was the bloodiest ever act perpetrated on Israeli soil. It left more than 1,200 dead, mostly civilians. More than 240 people were also taken hostage by the Palestinian Islamist movement.

Since then, more than 13,300 people have been killed in Israeli bombardments on the Gaza Strip, including more than 5,600 children, according to Hamas.

Posted on 21 Nov 2023 16:43 link