A rabbi was attacked by four youths on Wednesday as he was walking with his six-year-old daughter on a Berlin street, police in the German capital reported.
The rabbi (53), who was dressed in traditional attire, was confronted by the youths, reportedly of Arab origin, in the German city's western Schöneberg neighborhood. "Are you a Jew," they asked him, and then proceeded to attack him. He was admitted to a hospital with head wounds.
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Police said the assailants insulted the rabbi's religion and his mother, and also threatened the kill his daughter before fleeing the scene.
According to the World Jewish Congress (WJC), Berlin police have launched an investigation and said the incident would be treated as hate crime.
WJC quoted the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dieter Graumann, as saying that "This despicable attack on Jews in the middle of our capital is outrageous and shocking. It is not just an evil attack on Jewry in Germany but an attack against all of us, and against our common values of tolerance and liberalism. It must not be downplayed. However, we Jews won't be intimidated by such callous attacks. We will continue vigorously to build our Jewish future in this country."
Berlin's mayor Klaus Wowereit condemned the attack "in the strongest possible terms," saying it was "an attack on the peaceful co-habitation of all people who live in our city."
The Jewish forum for democracy and against anti-Semitism said it was "very shocked by the act of violence."
Group spokesman Levi Salomon said the victim was "one of the first rabbis to be ordained in Germany after the Holocaust" when six million Jews were murdered by Adolf Hitler's Nazis.
The rabbi teaches religious studies at a Jewish school and has pushed for years for dialogue with Christians and Muslims, Salomon said.
A recent report published by the US State Department indicated a rise in global anti-Semitism last year.