German Antisemitism Tsar Urges Investigation Into Celebrity Chef Turned Conspiracy Theorist
The German government’s top antisemitism official on Friday called for federal prosecutors to launch an investigation into a celebrity chef who has reinvented himself as a Jew-hating conspiracy theorist.
In a radio interview, Felix Klein — the federal commissioner appointed in 2018 to tackle rising antisemitism in Germany — denounced the behavior of chef Attila Hildmann as “scandalous.”
A self-described “ultra right-winger” of Turkish origin who was brought up by German adoptive parents, the 39-year-old Hildmann is known in Germany for his recipe books and frequent appearances on food programs.
But with the spiraling coronavirus pandemic, Hildmann has swapped his vegan recipes for outlandish claims about the global extent of “Jewish” and “Zionist” power, deliberately using Nazi terms like “parasites” and “subhumans” to underline his point that Covid-19 is a symptom of wider global conspiracy run by prominent Jews such as financier George Soros and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Hildmann’s actions were “scandalous and, in my opinion, relevant under criminal law,” Klein said. He urged prosecutors to probe Hildmann’s record of “antisemitic agitation, relativization of the Holocaust and mockery of Holocaust victims.”
A planned rally by Hildmann in Berlin this week to oppose coronavirus restrictions was canceled by the authorities on the grounds that it would “likely lead to the utterance of criminally punishable statements once again,” the city’s interior minister explained.
“The right of assembly and freedom of opinion is very highly valued in our democracy,” Andreas Geisel said. “But the state will decisively stand up to anyone who takes advantage of it to make possibly illegal statements and trample on other people’s dignity.”