Attacks on Jews and Muslims in Germany surged after Israel-Hamas war outbreak

25 June 2024, 08:22 | Updated: 25 June 2024, 11:52

Attacks on Jews and Muslims in Germany have surged since the outbreak of the recent Israel-Hamas war, new figures show

Antisemitic incidents rose by more than 80% last year, compared to 2022.

Some 4,782 episodes were recorded - an average of 13 per day.

The figures from the monitoring group the Federal Association of Departments for Research and Information on Antisemitism (RIAS) show there was a major up tick following Hamas's 7 October attacks.

In the three months following, 2,787 incidents were documented.

That's more than the whole of 2022 when 2,616 were recorded.

While many complaints were linked to anti-Israel activism, authors of today's report said Jews increasingly experienced antisemitism in their immediate surroundings: at work, in educational institutions, and on social media.

Violent attacks in this period also rose, with around two-thirds of all cases of extreme violence, assaults, and threats occurring after 7 October, according to the report released today.

Examples cited include Molotov cocktails being thrown at a Jewish community centre in Berlin, flares being thrown at a Jewish family's home in North Rhine-Westphalia, and increasing "threats of extermination" against Jewish institutions.

"In all areas of life, Jews are being harassed, threatened, and attacked. Since October 7, threats against open Jewish life have become more acute," said Benjamin Steinitz, managing director of the Bundesverband RIAS.

"The unprecedented rise in antisemitic incidents must be understood as a wake-up call: the state has the responsibility to ensure that Jews can safely participate in civic life.

"Last but not least, it is up to all of us to put a stop to the normalisation of antisemitism."

Attacks on Muslims also shot up following 7 October according to a separate report released this week.

Four attempted murders are among the 1,926 incidents recorded in Germany in 2023 by the CLAIM network of NGOs monitoring Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred.

An attempted arson attack at a mosque which had been marked with a swastika, and a woman being pushed onto train tracks after being asked if she was a member of Hamas, are also among the incidents.

CLAIM's report showed that incidents rose 114% last year with more than five anti-Muslim attacks taking place every day - including discrimination, verbal and physical attacks, or damage to property.

Around 90 attacks on religious institutions such as mosques, cemeteries, and Muslim-marked places were recorded.

Children were among those physically and verbally abused, while women were the most common targets.

The authorities have been criticised for not paying enough attention to the problem.

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Rima Hanano, head of CLAIM, said: "The massive increase in anti-Muslim attacks and discrimination in 2023 is more than worrying.

"At the same time, this threat has so far hardly been noticed. For Muslims and people who are perceived as such, the street, the bus or the mosque are no longer safe places.

"Anti-Muslim racism has never been as socially acceptable as it is today and it comes from the middle of society. The consequences for those affected are often serious and many people feel that they are not worthy of solidarity."

Germany's Muslim population increased rapidly in recent years, especially following the migrant crisis of 2015 to 2016.

At 5.5 million, they now make up around 6.6% of the population.

But Islamophobia is an ongoing problem with figures from the interior ministry last year showing a 140% increase in Islamophobic crimes.

A survey also showed one in two Germans agreed with anti-Muslim statements according to CLAIM's report.

Lisa Paus, Germany's federal minister for social affairs, said: "The increase in anti-Muslim and antisemitic incidents is dramatic.

"In order to curb racism in our society, prevention work from an early age - especially among children and young people - is essential.

"With our federal program 'Live Democracy!' we are working with civil society organisations to address this issue and are also promoting community-based monitoring."