Germany Urges Locals to Wear Skullcaps in Solidarity With Jews

Felix Klein's statements come after he made headlines last week, warning Jews not to wear kippas in public spaces amid recent rise in anti-Semitic crimes in Germany

File photo: Two men wearing skullcaps during a remembrance event of the parliament Bundestag to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust at the Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany, January 31, 2019.
Markus Schreiber / AP

The German government's anti-Semitism commissioner has urged Germans to wear kippahs in public on Saturday, following an earlier statement calling on Jews to refrain from donning skullcaps in public in light of a rise in anti-Semitic crimes in the country.

Felix Klein said, in comments carried by Funke media group newspapers on Tuesday that people should wear Jewish skullcaps in a bid to show solidarity with Jews and take a positive stance on diversity and freedom of religion.

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Saturday is Al-Quds day, which marks the day on which Israel captured East Jerusalem and effectively annexed it during the 1967 Six-Day War. Palestinian groups launch protests to mark their resistance to Israeli occupation on the day.

"I call on all citizens in Berlin and everywhere in Germany to wear the kippah on Saturday when people will agitate unbearably against Israel and against Jews on 'Al-Quds Day'", Klein said.

The commissioner also called on people in Germany to take part in pro-Israel rallies on the day instead.

Klein made headlines last week when he warned Jews not to wear kippas in public spaces, noting a recent rise in anti-Semitic crimes in Germany. The skullcaps are traditionally worn by Jewish men as an outward sign of their faith.

"I am sorry to say that I cannot recommend that Jews wear the kippah everywhere in Germany," Felix Klein said, in remarks also carried by Funke media group newspapers.

According to official figures, the number of anti-Semitic crimes committed in Germany increased from 1,504 in 2017 to 1,646 in 2018 - a 10-percent rise. The number of cases considered violent increased from 37 to 62 over the same period.