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June 19, 2018 4:14 pm

Defendant in Berlin Kippa Assault Denies Being Antisemitic

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Cell phone video captured the moment the assailant struck in Berlin. Photo: Screenshot.

The Syrian refugee in Germany who assaulted two men wearing kippahs in Berlin earlier this year defended his actions as he went on trial in the German capital on Tuesday.

The April 17 attack was captured on video by one of the victims, an Israeli Arab who said he wore the kippa in a show of solidarity with his Jewish friends. The video, which went viral, showed the 19-year-old defendant whipping him violently with a belt while shouting “Yahudi!” — Jew in Arabic.

In court on Monday, the defendant — who has not been named, as he is being tried as a juvenile — claimed he had been verbally insulted by the victims before he attacked them. He also stated that he only noticed the two men were wearing kippot at the end of the altercation.

Media reports in Germany said that the defendant’s answers to questions put by the Berlin district judge examining the case were delivered in a mix of Arabic and German. While admitting that he had “made a mistake,” he strongly denied being antisemitic, adding that he had been using drugs on the day of the attack and was therefore not thinking clearly.

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The defendant’s lawyer, Ria Halbritter, insisted that her client was being unfairly portrayed as an antisemite. In an interview on Tuesday with broadcaster RBB, Halbritter said that the trial would prove her client was not antisemitic, and demonstrate that his behavior in Germany had been exemplary before the attack took place.

The Israeli victim told the court that he had been deeply affected by the attack. “I no longer wear a kippa when I am walking alone,” he said.

The trial was adjourned on Tuesday and is expected to resume early next week.

April’s attack led to mass “kippah protests” against antisemitism in Germany, which has risen in the last two years as the country has absorbed thousands of migrants fleeing the Middle East. In April, the government appointed career diplomat Felix Klein as Germany’s first federal commissioner tasked with combating antisemitism.

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