Muslim-Owned Restaurant in Germany Once Targeted by Neo-Nazi in Yom Kippur Shooting Rescued From Bankruptcy by Jewish Community Campaign
The Turkish kebab restaurant in the German city of Halle attacked by a neo-Nazi gunman following an attempted massacre at a nearby synagogue where worshipers had gathered for Yom Kippur services on Oct. 9, 2019 has been saved from bankruptcy, thanks to a fundraising campaign led by the Jewish community.
As The Algemeiner reported last September, the German Union of Jewish Students (JSUD) launched the campaign to save Halle’s Kiez-Döner restaurant, which has seen its business ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The restaurant was targeted by Stephan Balliet, a neo-Nazi gunman, during his Yom Kippur shooting spree the previous year. As more than 50 worshipers were inside the Halle synagogue for services marking the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, a heavily-armed Balliet tried repeatedly but failed to smash through the building’s security doors.
He then shot dead Jana Lange, a 40-year-old female passerby, before speeding away in his car to the Kiez-Döner, where he murdered a 20-year-old male customer, Kevin Schwarze, on the assumption that Schwarze was a Muslim. Following a harrowing four-month trial in 2020, Balliet was sentenced to life imprisonment last December.
The student-led campaign raised over $40,000 to boost the ailing restaurant’s finances, far exceeding its original target of $7,000. Additionally, a local Jewish businessman put $1,000 behind the restaurant’s counter to help whip up business by handing out free kebabs.
Ismet Tekin — who co-owns the restaurant with his brother Rafin — told German news outlets that the campaign showed that unity in the face of hatred was possible.
“It’s really amazing what they did,” Tekin said. “They did it out of solidarity, to show that we are together, that we can get through these times when we are united.”
Tekin said that following the attack, members of the Jewish community became regulars at the restaurant.
Igor Matviyets — a member of the Halle Jewish community — said that the fundraising campaign had come about because both the synagogue and the Muslim-owned restaurant were selected by Balliet for attack.
“From what the shooter said, it is clear that he was aiming at the restaurant because it did not reflect his idea of what should be in Germany, just as the synagogue did not,” he commented.
Tekin meanwhile insisted that any historical tensions between Muslims and Jews in the Middle East had no bearing on his own attitudes.
“For me, there is no tension,” he said. “Religion is a private matter. Everyone has the right to their beliefs.”