Germany’s Jewish community has reacted with shock to a stone-throwing attack by Muslim children as young as 10 on a Jewish dance troupe performing at a Hanover festival, media reported Thursday.
About 30 children and youths, largely of Lebanese, Palestinian and Iranian descent, threw stones at the dancers on Sunday, shouting “Jews out!” daily Berliner Morgenpost reported. The youths were aged from 10 to 15, the paper reported. The dance troupe, named Chaverim – Hebrew for “friends” – broke off their performance after one of their members was hit in the leg by a stone and lightly injured.
Lower Saxony Integration Minister Aygül Özkan said through a spokesman she was “deeply shocked” by the incident. Charlotte Knoblauch, president of the German Jewish Council, said the incident showed “a new social provocation, which already in the past weeks is clearly visible as it hasn’t been before.” Anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic feelings were evidently simmering among Muslim youths living in Germany, she said, adding that this case “saddens me especially because these anti-Semitic attitudes are encountered already in children and youths with this vehemence.”
Aiman Mazyek, chairman of the Central Council of Muslims, condemned the incident in the strongest terms in an interview with Spiegel Online. He called for Islamic solidarity with anyone – whether Jewish, Christian, Muslim or Atheist – who has suffered from injustice. Mazyek also pointed out that hatred and anti-Semitism had no place in Islam.
Aygül Özkan becomes the new social minister in the German state of Niedersachsen, and thereby the first politician of Turkish background in such high office. More surprisingly, it is the conservative party CDU who lifted her into this office, considering their generally rigorous policies on immigration and integration.
Before coming to office this week, Özkan has stirred the first controversy among her conservative party colleagues and the public. While she called for banning headscarves from schools for reasons of secularism, she equally demanded to remove Christian crosses from classrooms, following the same spirit. This was too much innovation for the conservative camp, and Niedersachsen’s prime minister Wulff had to amend her statement.
More controversy was caused at the induction ceremony this week, when Özkan swore the oath on the constitution, adding the optional phrase “With the help of God”. After the ceremony she explained that she referred to the one and only God who is shared by the three monotheistic religions. But representatives of both Churches have jumped on this comment and declared that there are indeed vast differences between God and Allah and that the new minister should not have used the phrase.
In the current environment, Özkan could not have chosen a non-controversial option. Had she said “With the help of Allah”, one can only imagine the hysterical outcry of the public about Allah’s intrusion into German politics. If she had omitted the phrase, which would be most advisable option for all politicians in a truly secular state, the same religious representatives would have criticized. This critique once more reveals the bigotry of the German Churches and that it will be a long way until Turkish-German politicians are so common that they do not make it to the headlines simply for their background.