Police in the German city of Cologne detained two men suspected of seriously injuring a Jewish 18-year-old on Friday night, in a group assault that left the Jewish community “appalled.”
The police have arrested an 18-year-old and a 19-year-old after a young Jewish man wearing a kippah was first insulted with antisemitic language in a park in Cologne, and then punched and kicked in the face, according to an initial investigation. The victim was brought to the hospital with a broken nose and cheekbone. One of the assailants in the group of about ten is said to have stolen the victim’s kippah from his head.
Dr. Felix Schotland, who serves on the board of the Cologne Synagogue Community, said Monday that its members “no longer feel safe in the city.”
“We expect the police, the public prosecutors and the judges in this country to take action against antisemitic excesses with the necessary severity of the law,” he said. “We know, however, that most representatives from politics and city society stand by our side.”
The attack was recorded by an installed police camera in the area, which helped identify the two suspected perpetrators who were arrested.
“The cowardly attack on the young man from Cologne has once again made the ugly grimace of antisemitism in Germany visible. Wearing a kippah without fear must be possible in North-Rhine Westphalia and anywhere in Germany,“ said Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, antisemitism commissioner for the German state of North-Rhine Westphalia. “Every perpetrator should know that we will not tolerate antisemitism in our society and will use all legal means to ban this inhuman attitude from our streets.”
The two arrested were reportedly released from police custody but are still suspects in the crime. In light of the assumed antisemitic nature of the assault, Germany’s police state security has now taken over the investigation of the case.
The Chief Rabbi of Frankfurt and chairman of the conference of Orthodox rabbis in Germany, Avichai Apel, called the attack is a wake up sign that “especially young people in schools, educational institutions or other public institutions must be taught more about Jewish life so that ignorance or fear of foreigners does not turn into hatred and violence directed against Jews who have been a natural part of Germany for the past 1700 years.”