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Anti-Semitism to be punished more harshly in Germany

The upsurge in anti-Semitic incidents in Germany is a cause for concern. Credit: Belga

Anti-Semitism will soon be considered an aggravating circumstance in Germany and will be punished more severely, the government announced Thursday.

“I am ashamed that Jewish people in Germany no longer feel safe, to the point that many of them are thinking of leaving the country,” said Christine Lambert, the Minister of Justice, in the Chamber of Deputies.

She announced that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government would introduce legislation that will increase penalties when an offence or crime has an anti-Semitic motive. “We must send a clear signal against anti-Semitism,” the minister said.

The legislation will also include the obligation for social networks to report death threats to the police, and better protection for politicians whose safety is threatened. The latter measure was decided after a pro-immigration politician, Walter Lübcke, was murdered by an alleged member of the neo-Nazi movement in June.

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Merkel promised “zero tolerance” and pledged to do a better job of “fighting hatred” after the attack on the synagogue in Halle in Lower Saxony, which killed two people on the day of the Jewish Yom Kippur celebration. The death toll could have been much higher if the alleged killer, who was a member of an extreme-right movement, had managed to enter the synagogue, where about 50 people were present.

The upsurge in anti-Semitic incidents in Germany is a cause for concern. In 2018, they increased by nearly 20% compared to 2017, with the neo-Nazi movement at the origin of many of them, according to police statistics.

In Belgium, anti-Semitic incidents seem on the rise, with the town hall in Woluwe-Saint-Pierre being covered in swastikas, and a picture of a member of a far-right group performing a Hitler salute in an old Belgian Nazi prison camp surfacing, both this week only being several examples.

The Brussels Times