Anti-Semitic speech and actions increased, particularly in the form of statements and slogans at protest demonstrations during the conflict in Gaza. Authorities said neo-Nazi groups were mainly responsible, although there was a rising anti-Semitic trend among Muslim youth. Leading politicians and media representatives spoke out against anti-Semitism, and Muslim groups demonstrated in support of moderate Islam. Catholic and Protestant churches continued to oppose Scientology publicly and the COS said private companies continued to use “sect filters” against its members. There was vandalism against synagogues, mosques, and a Coptic church. Because ethnicity and religion were often closely linked, it was difficult to categorize some incidents specifically as being solely based on religious identity.
According to the most recent federal OPC report, there were 1,202 right-wing-extremist manifestations of anti-Semitism (down from 1,286 in 2012) among right-wing politically motivated criminal offenses reported to authorities in 2013). Forty-five of the anti-Semitism cases involved violence (up from 36 in 2012).
On July 7, a Polish resident of Berlin was attacked while he was wearing a cap with a Star of David. He told police he was assaulted because of the cap. He was sitting on a bench with another man when two men began harassing him verbally, and then punched him in the face and kicked him. He suffered lacerations and was later treated at a hospital. The Berlin criminal office stated it suspected the assault was motivated by anti-Semitism.
The authorities and NGOs continued to attribute most anti-Semitic acts to neo-Nazi or other right-wing groups or individuals, some of whom claimed Jews were the cause of negative modern social and economic trends. NGOs monitoring and working to counter anti-Semitism continued to report a rising anti-Semitic trend among Muslim youth, who were increasingly involved in attacks on and harassment of Jews.
Some politicians and Jewish leaders expressed concern and outrage when the former leader of the right-wing National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), Udo Voigt, was elected as a German representative to the European Parliament in May and took a seat on the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs Committee. A court had convicted Voigt of promoting Nazism in 2004 after he praised Adolf Hitler, glorified the Waffen SS, and denied the Holocaust. European Parliament President Martin Schulz, a member of Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD), told the media: “Everyone who denies the Holocaust and who is against human dignity, democracy, and plurality will encounter the strongest of resistance from me ... There is no place for racists and anti-Semites in this house.”
On April 16, a group reportedly supported by the NPD submitted a petition signed by over 10,500 people to the Leipzig city council opposing the planned construction of the first mosque in the city. In advance of August 31 state elections in Saxony, the NPD hung campaign posters with the slogan “Mosque No” throughout Leipzig. On August 18, the NPD projected the same slogan on a wall of the Leipzig city hall and posted a video of it online. In the video, an NPD politician declared the action to be a protest against the “Islamization of Leipzig.”
In September small groups of Muslims wearing jackets labeled “Sharia Police” briefly staged patrols in Wuppertal, Aachen, and Bonn to counter alcohol consumption, gambling, smoking, and concerts and to pressure youth to convert to Islam. In response, right-wing extremists wearing shirts labeled “City Protection” staged patrols in Wuppertal. The federal chancellor, interior minister, NRW state interior minister, and other state and federal authorities stated the jackets constituted an infringement of the police’s legal and authorized monopoly on the legitimate use of force. They started investigations into the patrols and the individuals who participated.
In November and December a movement known as PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident) held weekly demonstrations in Dresden against alleged “Islamization” of the country, which attracted thousands of peaceful demonstrators as well as thousands of counter-demonstrators from political parties, churches, NGOs, and union groups. Similar but smaller protests and counter-protests were held in other cities, including Bonn and Wuerzburg. In her televised New Year’s Eve speech, Chancellor Merkel pointed out the needs of refugees and the benefits of immigration and discouraged people from joining the PEGIDA protesters, saying they intended to exclude people based on their skin color or religion and their hearts are too often full of prejudice, coldness, and hatred. Other national politicians also condemned the rallies and called for tolerance and understanding of Muslims and foreigners living and working in the country.
Anti-Semitic speech and actions increased. At demonstrations against the conflict in Gaza that took place in several cities in June and July, some protesters shouted anti-Semitic statements and slogans. Police investigated the incidents to determine if they violated bans on anti-Semitic speech and acts and stepped up the permanent security measures around many synagogues during the peak of the protests.
On June 12, approximately 2,500 people, including Muslim groups, Islamist extremists, and right-wing extremists, attended an anti-Israel demonstration in Frankfurt. When the demonstrators turned aggressive and chanted anti-Semitic slogans, police offered organizers the use of police loudspeakers to calm the crowd. Organizers instead used the loudspeakers to shout additional anti-Semitic statements. Police investigated the incidents under anti-incitement laws but prosecutors made no indictments.
On July 11, protesters at an anti-Israel demonstration in Bochum shouted, “Israel, child murderer,” and, in Gelsenkirchen, protestors chanted, “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas.” After the Berlin public prosecutor found that some of the slogans used at protests in Berlin did not meet the legal definition for “incitement of hatred,” administrative authorities banned the use of some of them under the law on freedom of assembly. In July the Central Council of Jews and local Berlin politicians filed a complaint against a Danish imam who called for the death of Jews during prayers at a Berlin mosque; as of December the public prosecutor was continuing to investigate.
In August, following the protests and some Muslim leaders’ reportedly anti-Semitic comments, the Jewish Community of Frankfurt withdrew from the Interfaith Religious Council in Frankfurt, but reopened a dialogue with the council several weeks later.
Major political party leaders and civil society representatives, including Muslim, Protestant, and Catholic organizations, condemned the anti-Semitic incidents during the summer and called for zero tolerance of anti-Semitism. Bild, the largest circulation paper in the country, called on Germans to raise their voices against anti-Semitism with the headline, “Never Again Jew Hatred,” which the paper’s editor said was a repudiation of the anti-Semitism in demonstrations against Israeli actions in Gaza.
In connection with the September 19 Muslim rallies against extremist violence, the Central Council of Muslims published an op-ed piece calling on Muslims not to remain silent when Islam is being “kidnapped by terrorists and criminals,” and the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (organized by the Turkish government) emphasized its existing appeals and initiatives against violence and for peaceful cohabitation.
The Advisory Board of German Foundations on Integration and Migration reported survey findings in April showing a majority of the population was in favor of granting Islam religious equality. A small majority agreed Islam should be taught in schools and two-thirds supported Islamic education at universities. A majority expressed skepticism about granting special treatment to Muslims, such as exemption from sports lessons, for religious reasons. An August poll by Forsa found 52 percent of the population did not think Islam belonged in the country, while 53 percent of interviewees agreed that Islamophobia should be rejected as much as anti-Semitism, with 42 percent saying the two issues could not be compared.
Four of the major political parties (the Christian Democratic Union, Christian Social Union, Social Democratic Party, and Free Democratic Party) continued to exclude Scientologists from party membership.
Catholic and Protestant churches continued to oppose Scientology publicly, although press reporting and public reactions to Scientology decreased. “Sect commissioners,” primarily Protestant and Catholic Church officials, investigated “sects, cults, and psycho groups” and publicized what they considered to be the dangers of these groups. Protestant “sect commissioners” warned the public about the alleged dangers also posed by the Unification Church, Bhagwan-Osho, Transcendental Meditation, and Universal Life. Print and internet literature produced by “sect commissioners” portrayed these groups unfavorably.
“Sect filters” continued to be used in private sector employment and contracts. The COS alleged a number of companies, including some of the most prominent in the country, placed restrictions on hiring and contracting members of the COS.
In September a non-German bedding company requested that a subcontracted interior designer in Munich sign a “sect filter” as an amendment to its existing contract. As explanation, the company said the regional standards agency required the filter for the company to renew its quality management audit, due every three years.
Many civil society groups continued to seek improved societal respect for religious freedom through tolerance programs, multi-faith groups, and dialogue. Jewish NGOs, such as the Central Council of Jews, provided input and assistance on a variety of government-sponsored tolerance education programs focusing on anti-Semitism and xenophobia.
On May 10, Islamic and Christian communities and organizations joined in Krefeld to learn more about other cultures and religions at the first Day of Christian-Islamic Dialogue, held under the patronage of NRW Minister President Hannelore Kraft. The Cologne Society for Christian-Jewish Cooperation and the city of Cologne’s National-Socialist Documentation Center collaborated to publish a book aimed at countering anti-Semitism in schools.
In January the Dusseldorf airport established a prayer room for Muslims in its security area for the estimated 63,000 Muslims who transit the airport every year.
The most common anti-Semitic acts involved the desecration of Jewish cemeteries or monuments with graffiti that included swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans.
On July 10, approximately 100 persons attended an anti-Israel demonstration in Essen and attempted to burn the old synagogue, now a Jewish cultural center. Police intervened to stop them. In November prosecutors filed six indictments related to the demonstration for grievous bodily harm, unauthorized public gathering, firearms violations, and incitement. In two cases, they filed charges for attempted grievous bodily harm against police officers. Investigations into additional cases were ongoing.
In the early morning hours of July 29, attackers in Wuppertal threw Molotov cocktails at the main synagogue, but the devices failed to ignite. Police arrested three Palestinian men as suspects and were conducting investigations for aggravated arson.
On November 3, unidentified perpetrators stole the iron gate to the memorial at the Dachau concentration camp, bearing the Nazi slogan “Arbeit macht frei” (“Work Sets You Free”). The investigating police suspected neo-Nazis, based on previous incidents of theft from concentration camp memorials.
On November 9 – the anniversary of Kristallnacht – unknown perpetrators vandalized a synagogue in Pinneberg. The police continued their investigations of the incident as possibly anti-Semitic. A few days after the attack, 400 local citizens participated in a demonstration of solidarity with the Jewish community
Muslim organizations expressed concern about a number of attacks against mosques. In the early hours of September 13, unknown perpetrators threw two Molotov cocktails at the Haci-Bayram Mosque in Oldenburg, causing minor burn damage; police increased patrols in the area.
In October unknown perpetrators started a trash can fire at the Coptic church in Berlin that spread to the church’s front door. The mayor of Berlin condemned the arson, describing it as a crime against peaceful coexistence.