Two young men wearing yarmulkes were attacked and insulted in an apparent anti-Semitic assault in Berlin by three other men, who whipped one with a belt, Berlin police said Wednesday.
The German government expressed shock over Tuesday’s attack in the city’s trendy Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood, which was caught on video by one of the victims and quickly went viral.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeted that “it is intolerable if young men are being attacked here just because they wear a kippah.”
“Jews shall never again feel threatened here. It’s our responsibility to protect Jewish life here,” Maas added.
Berlin police said the two victims were 21 and 24 years old, but didn’t identify them by name.
Israeli broadcaster Kan published an interview with the 21-year-old victim who was slightly injured by the belt, and identified him as Israeli citizen Adam Armoush. He said he was leaving his Berlin home when the three people came and started cursing at them.
“They kept cursing us and my friend asked them to stop cursing,” Armoush told Kan TV. “They started to get angry and one of them ran to me and I knew it was important to film it because there would be no way to catch him by the time police arrived.”
Police said they are still looking for the attackers.
Two Jewish organizations posted the video, which showed a young man attacking the victim while yelling “Yahudi!” or “Jew” in Arabic.
The head of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, Aiman Mazyek, demanded punishment for the perpetrators, tweeting that “it makes me angry to see such violence full of hatred.”
Police said that after the belt attack, the suspect’s two companions took him away. When the group left, Armoush followed them. The attacker then took a glass bottle, as if he intended to hit him again, but a witness interceded and prevented the attack.
Following the attack, Armoush lifts up his shirt on the video and shows bruises left by the belt.
Berlin Mayor Michael Mueller also condemned the attack.
“I denounce this renewed anti-Semitic attack in the sharpest terms,” Mueller said. “Anti-Semitism doesn’t belong to the Berlin we want to live in.”
Anti-Semitic incidents have been on the rise in Germany. Several Jewish students have reported anti-Semitic bullying in schools in recent months: Israeli flags were burnt during a recent protest in Berlin and a band that included cynical references about the Nazis’ Auschwitz death camp in its lyrics won the country’s most important music prize last week — drawing massive criticism from other artists and government officials.
The German government appointed a career diplomat earlier this month to coordinate the fight against anti-Semitism.
According to the RIAS group, some 947 anti-Semitic incidents, including 18 attacks and 23 threats, were documented in Berlin last year.