German Chancellor Angela Merkel has condemned the violent attack on a Jewish student on Sunday calling the act a “disgrace”.
A 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.
German investigators said Monday they were probing the attack as attempted murder with anti-Semitic intent.
Jewish leaders and top politicians led condemnation of the latest attack, which 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 suspected attacker, a 29-year-old German man of Kazakh origin who was wearing military-style clothes, was arrested after the attack. He had on him a folding spade as well as a hand-drawn swastika.
Police said the suspect was in a confused state when he was detained, reportedly by officers guarding the synagogue.
“The current assessment of the situation suggests this is an anti-Semitic motivated attack,” a statement from police and prosecutors said.
They added that the case was being treated as “attempted murder with grievous bodily harm”.
Germany’s justice minister on Monday called the attack “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.”
Anti-Semitic crimes have increased in Germany in recent years. Last year, more than 2,032 anti-Semitic offences were recorded.
The German government’s anti-Semitism commissioner urged Jews to avoid wearing skullcaps in public last year.
This most recent attack comes a year after a deadly shooting outside the Halle synagogue where a neo-Nazi, armed with guns and explosives, tried to force his way into a synagogue to shoot Jewish worshippers. Thankfully he was prevented from entering the synagogue, but sadly shot dead a woman who was passing by before he shot and killed someone in a Turkish kebab restaurant down the road from the synagogue before being arrested.
A Hamburg rabbi said the community, which had come together Sunday to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, was “very, very shocked” by the assault.
“The question is: What have we not learned since Halle?” Rabbi Shlomo Bistritzky said.
“This is not an isolated case — this is repugnant anti-Semitism and we must all stand up against it,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeted Sunday night.