BERLIN (AP) — A 19-year-old Syrian asylum-seeker turned himself in to police Thursday after his violent attack on a man wearing a Jewish skullcap in Berlin caused outrage across Germany.
The young Syrian showed up with his lawyer at a police precinct, police spokesman Winfrid Wenzel said.
The 21-year-old victim, an Arab Israeli, caught Tuesday’s assault on video. It quickly went viral and reopened a debate about anti-Semitism in the country. Even Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the assault sharply.
The video shows the attacker whipping the Israeli with a belt while shouting “Yehudi!” or Jew, in Arabic.
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The victim, Adam Armoush, said he’s not Jewish but wore the skullcap as an experiment because he didn’t believe a friend who told him it’s too dangerous to wear one in public in Germany.
Following the attack, Merkel vowed Wednesday that the government would respond “with full force and resolve” against anti-Semitism in Germany.
The incident comes at a time of increased fears of anti-Semitism and indications that attacks against Jews are on the rise.
The RIAS group that tracks discrimination of Jews said Berlin last year had 947 anti-Semitic incidents, including 18 attacks and 23 threats.
Several Jewish students have reported anti-Semitic bullying in schools in recent months and Israeli flags were burnt during a recent protest in Berlin.
Last week, a rap band that included lighthearted references to inmates of the Nazis’ Auschwitz death camp in its lyrics won the country’s most important music prize — drawing strong criticism from other artists and government officials.
The band’s record company, BMG, said Thursday it would donate 100,000 euros ($123,880) toward projects to fight anti-Semitism in schools, but added it believes in “artistic freedom, creativity and diversity.”