Questions raised over police protection for German synagogue

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Questions are being raised about police response after an attack on a synagogue in the German city of Halle after a gunman tried unsuccessfully to enter the house of worship during Yom Kippur observances and killed two people nearby.

The head of Germany’s Jewish community, Josef Schuster, called the absence of police guards as “scandalous” as members of the synagogue described waiting behind locked doors for the police to arrive, which took more than 10 minutes.

The head of the Halle community, Max Privorozki, said Thursday “I thought, that door will not hold” as the attacker fired shots outside. Police union head Oliver Malchow said the response time showed “how thin police coverage is” and added that the wait “was especially long for the people who were in the synagogue.”

Police said the suspect, identified as Stephen B., had no previous arrests, but the targets of the shooting suggest that the gunman had anti-Semitic and xenophobic beliefs. German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said that anti-Semitism was certainly one of the shooter’s motives.

Social media companies scrambled on Wednesday to scrub footage of a shooting outside a German synagogue from their platforms, in the first major test of their systems since a massacre in the New Zealand city of Christchurch prompted a global outcry.

Two people killed in a shooting in Halle
 A cardboard reading ‘no place for anti-semitism’ at a mourning on the market place in Halle Saale, Germany, 10 October 2019. EPA-EFE/CLEMENS BILAN

The attacker in Germany, livestreamed his rampage on Amazon’s gaming subsidiary Twitch.

The nearly 36-minute-long video closely resembled footage livestreamed in March in Christchurch, where the gunman also wore a camera to capture a first-person perspective as he killed 51 people at two mosques.

As with Christchurch, full copies and portions of the German video quickly began appearing elsewhere online, shared both by supporters of the gunman’s anti-Semitic ideology and critics condemning his actions.

 

Via AP/DW/France 24

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