A German government watchdog has called on people across the country to wear Jewish skullcaps this weekend in an act of solidarity against anti-Semitism.
The appeal follows a U-turn on an official warning to Jewish men not to wear skullcaps in public for their own safety.
Felix Klein, the German government’s anti-Semitism commissioner, warned Jewish men at the weekend not to wear traditional kippah or yarmulke skullcaps amid a sharp rise in anti-Semitic attacks.
The warning was backed by Germany’s largest Jewish organisation, the Central Council of Jews, but was widely criticised.
President Reuven Rivlin of Israel described it as a “capitulation to anti-Semitism”, while Angela Merkel’s spokesman said: “The state must see to it that the free exercise of religion is possible for all… and that anyone can move around safely in our country while wearing a kippah”.
Mr Klein later backed away from his initial warning, saying it was intended as “a way of raising the alarm”.
He called for people across the country to wear skullcaps in a sign of solidarity with Israel and Jewish people this weekend as Muslims mark Al-Quds Day, an annual event in support of the Palestinians.
“I call on all citizens of Berlin and across Germany to wear the kippah next Saturday if there are new, intolerable attacks targeting Israel and Jews on the occasion of Al-Quds Day in Berlin,” he said in a statement.
Bild, Germany’s highest-selling newspaper, produced cut-out-and-wear skullcaps for people to wear.
Previous Al-Quds Day events in Berlin have seen anti-Israel demonstrations, and there is a widespread popular perception that Muslim immigration has fuelled a rise in anti-Semitic attacks in recent years.
But official police figures released show that 90 per cent of anti-Semitic attacks in Germany last year were in fact linked to the indigenous far-Right scene.
According to official figures, 1,799 hate crimes were committed against Jewish people in Germany last year, an increase of more than 10 per cent compared to 2017. They included 62 cases of violence against Jews, up from 37 in 2017.