Jews told not to wear skullcaps in parts of Germany
26 May 2019, 09:06 | Updated: 27 May 2019, 01:57
The German government's top official against antisemitism has warned Jewish people not to wear skullcaps in parts of the country.
Commissioner Felix Klein was speaking following a rise in antisemitic attacks in Germany.
Mr Klein told the Funke newspaper group: "My opinion has unfortunately changed compared with what it used to be.
"I cannot recommend to Jews that they wear the skullcap at all times everywhere in Germany."
He did not say which places he thought were too risky to wear the cap, also called a kippa.
According to statistics released earlier this month, antisemitic incidents were up by 19.6% to 1,799 in 2018, with 89.1% of them involving far-right perpetrators.
This was despite an overall drop in politically-motivated crimes.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said he was "deeply shocked" by Mr Klein's words.
He added: "We will never submit, will never lower our gaze and will never react to antisemitism with defeatism - and expect and demand our allies act in the same way."
Michel Friedman, a former deputy leader of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, the country's main Jewish group, said they were an admission of failure and that "the state must ensure that Jews can show themselves everywhere without fear".
Bavaria's state interior minister, Joachim Herrmann, insisted: "Everyone can and should wear his skullcap wherever and whenever he wants."
Mr Klein himself told German news agency DPA that his statement had been "provocative" because he "wanted to initiate a debate about the safety of the Jewish community in our country".
"Of course I believe that there must not be no-go areas anywhere in Germany for Jews or members of other minorities," he said.
His words followed a similar warning from the head of Germany's leading Jewish organisation last year.
Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews, told German radio: "I have to advise people to avoid showing themselves openly with a kippa in a big city setting in Germany, and to wear a baseball cap or something else to cover their head instead."
Mr Schuster's words had followed an attack in central Berlin the previous week, where two men wearing kippas were assaulted by a group of three men who shouted "Yahudi", the Arabic word for Jewish.
"Most of society realises we have reached a tipping point," Mr Schuster said at the time.
"If we don't oppose open antisemitism, ultimately it will endanger our democracy. Because it's not just about antisemitism, it's also about racism and xenophobia."
(c) Sky News 2019: Jews told not to wear skullcaps in parts of Germany