German Politicians Criticized for Highlighting Antisemitism Among Muslims on Holocaust Memorial Day
Two German politicians were at the center of a bitter domestic row on Tuesday after they drew attention to the dangers posed by antisemitism within the country’s Muslim community.
Parliamentarian Friedrich Merz — who represents the governing CDU Party in the Bundestag — declared in a tweet on Monday afternoon to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day that antisemitism in Germany had risen in tandem with the arrival of over 600,000 refugees fleeing from the civil war in Syria.
Merz commented that “75 years after [the] liberation of Auschwitz, we again experience antisemitism — mostly from the right, but also due to immigration from 2015/16.”
He pointed out: “Many bring hatred of Jews with them, which is preached in their home countries. There must be no tolerance for that either.”
Merz’s comments followed earlier remarks by his CDU colleague, Philipp Amthor, along similar lines. During a TV interview to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Amthor said that it was “also clear, and this must not be forgotten, that antisemitism is of course particularly strongly represented in Muslim cultural circles.”
Both politicians faced strong criticism from across Germany’s political spectrum.
Matthias Hauer — like Merz and Amthor a CDU parliamentarian — nevertheless rejected their comments.
“Even if the statements are correct, today — #Auschwitz 75 — is not a day to point fingers at others,” Hauer said.
Sawsan Chebli — a parliamentarian from the center-left SPD Party — commented that “as an immigrant to Germany, Nazi history is also mine today.”
Addressing Merz, Chebli continued that “the growing hatred of Jews worries me as well. Perhaps even more than you, Mr. Merz. You should be ashamed to use the day of liberation of Auschwitz as an platform to incite against migrants.”
The latest row comes amid an ongoing debate in Germany over the nature and degree of Muslim antisemitism at a time when there has been a precipitous increase in anti-Jewish outrages.
During 2018, a total of 1,799 antisemitic incidents were recorded by the authorities. But German law enforcement agencies have been recently criticized for allegedly downplaying the involvement of Muslim extremists in acts of antisemitism, while emphasizing the role of the far right.