Following an anti-Semitic attack in Hanover, German authorities have identified a new source of anti-Semitic hatred in Germany: young migrants from Muslim families. The ideological alliance has officials concerned.
This article was prepared by the Islam in Europe blog - islamineurope.blogspot.com
Until now, attacks on Jews, Jewish institutions and Jewish symbols have almost always been committed by right-wing extremist groups. In the first quarter of 2010 alone, the German Interior Ministry documented 183 anti-Semitic offences committed by right-wing radicals, including graffiti, inflammatory propaganda and physical violence.
The stone-throwing incident in Hanover, however, has finally forced the authorities to take a closer look at a group of offenders that, though largely overlooked until now, is no less motivated by anti-Zionist sentiments: adolescents and young adults from an immigrant community who are influenced by Islamist ideas and are prepared to commit acts of violence.
An informal and accidental alliance has been developing for some time between neo-Nazis and some members of a group they would normally despise: Muslim immigrants. The two groups seem to share vaguely similar anti-Semitic ideologies.
Right-wing extremists and Islamists, says Heinz Fromm, the president of the German domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), are united by "a common bogeyman: Israel and the Jews as a whole." While German right-wing extremists cultivate a "more or less obvious racist anti-Semitism," says Fromm, the Islamists are "oriented toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict" and support "anti-Zionist ideological positions, which can also have anti-Jewish and anti-Semitic overtones." Both extremist movements, says Fromm, "ascribe extraordinary political power to Israel and the Jews, and their goal is to fight this power."
'A Tree, a Noose, a Jew's Neck'
Although the BfV has not separately identified anti-Semitic crimes associated with Islamist groups until now, investigators are paying close attention to the development of anti-Jewish tendencies within the milieu.
Anti-Semitism from the two groups shows itself in different ways in Germany. On the one hand, there are the efforts of extremist right-wing groups, which tend to follow a certain pattern. During a football match in April, for example, supporters of SV Mügeln-Ablass 09, a district-league football club in the eastern state of Saxony, chanted "a tree, a noose, a Jew's neck" and "we're building a subway, from Jerusalem to Auschwitz," until the match was stopped.
On the other hand, say BfV officials, Islamist ideologues are creating problems with their anti-Israeli tirades, which are being broadcast on the Internet and television. "You can expect this sort of propaganda to have an impact on certain social groups," says Fromm.
Meanwhile residents and social workers are trying to understand the background and motives of the adolescents who attacked Jewish dancers with stones at the "International Day" event in Hanover's Sahlkamp neighborhood.
There is no visible evidence of Jewish life in the district, which has about 14,000 residents. According to the police, the stone-throwing incident on June 19 was the first case of anti-Semitic violence in the area. So far, authorities have identified 12 possible suspects. They are between 9 and 19 years old, many are not yet old enough to be prosecuted, and 11 of them have an "Arab immigrant background," according to the public prosecutor's office in the city. No one has said anything yet on the possible motives for the attack. The only comments, so far, came from a little girl, perhaps 10 or 11 years old, who was addressed immediately after the attack by a woman attending the neighborhood festival.
"What's going on here?" the woman asked.
"The Germans say: Foreigners out!" the girl replied. "Why can't we say: Jews out?" Then she ran away.