(October 13, 2019 / JNS) BERLIN—“The background is still unclear.”
That was the refrain that German broadcasters repeated throughout Yom Kippur on Oct. 9 as news of the attempted attack on the Halle synagogue that killed two bystanders came to light. The options were obvious: either extremist Muslims or extremist right-wingers.
German media treaded lightly until the perpetrator was confirmed: a neo-Nazi, with suspect Stephan Balliet, 27, going so far as to brazenly document his attack and its planning. The style and rhetoric were similar to the shootings at the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh and Chabad of Poway in Southern California in the United States, which raised the alarm to the growing prominence of right-wing hate groups in America.
Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel of the Christian Democrats (CDU), who lost political ground to the right since her decision to welcome more than a million Muslim refugees and migrants since 2015, made a generic, televised statement: “We must use all the means of the rule of law to combat hatred, violence and enemies of mankind. There can be no tolerance whatsoever.”
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