April 19, 2018 / 2:48 PM / a month ago

Suspect in anti-Semitic attack in Berlin turns himself in

BERLIN (Reuters) - German police said on Thursday that a suspected perpetrator of an anti-Semitic attack had turned himself in after investigators managed to identify him with the help of witness accounts.

Police launched the investigation after two men wearing Jewish skullcaps were insulted and attacked by three people in Berlin late on Tuesday, an incident that comes amid concern that anti-Semitism may be on the rise in Germany.

A police spokeswoman said the 19-year old suspect was a Syrian citizen and had turned himself in at around noon, accompanied by his lawyer.

“At the request of the public prosecutor’s office in Berlin, he will appear in front of an investigating judge who will decide on issuing an arrest warrant,” the spokeswoman added.

Anti-Semitism remains a sensitive issue in Germany given that more than 6 million Jews were murdered during the Nazi-era Holocaust.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday the attack in Berlin was “absolutely dreadful” and stressed any form of anti-Semitism would be dealt with firmly and decisively.

Merkel also stressed there was anti-Semitism among both German nationals and people from Arabic-speaking areas.

One of the three attackers hit the 21-year-old with a belt and also tried to hit him with a glass bottle. A female witness placed herself between them and prevented any further violence.

Deidre Berger, director of the AJC Berlin Ramer Institute for German-Jewish Relations, said the assault showed that people had lost their inhibitions against anti-Semitic violence.

Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Catherine Evans

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