May 8, 2018 / 3:18 PM / 2 months ago

Anti-Semitic crime, mostly with far-right motive, edges up in Germany

BERLIN (Reuters) - The number of anti-Semitic crimes in Germany rose by 2.5 percent last year despite an overall drop in politically motivated crimes, statistics showed on Tuesday, reinforcing fears about growing hostility after several high-profile attacks in Berlin.

German Minister of the Interior, Building and Community Horst Seehofer looks on before the weekly cabinet meeting at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, April 18, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said that 1,504 anti-Semitic offences were reported in 2017, up from 1,468 in 2016, though he said there had been fewer attacks on hostels housing refugees.

“It is not surprising that the so-called “imported anti-Semitic crimes” are rising - even if at a lower level. But I want to make clear that almost 95 percent of anti-Semitic crimes in 2017 had a right-wing motive,” said Seehofer.

Some politicians, including many in the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD), blame the influx of more than 1.6 million refugees and other migrants, many fleeing war zones in Syria, Iraq and beyond.

Seehofer cited recent offences, including the bullying of Jewish children in school, an attack on an Israeli Arab who wore a Jewish kippa on a Berlin street and the awarding of a top music award to rappers accused of reciting anti-Semitic lyrics.

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Germany is not the only country confronting anti-Semitism but the legacy of the Holocaust, in which Nazis killed at least six million Jews, means Germans feel a special sense of responsibility.

Politically motivated crimes overall fell by 4.6 percent in 2017, the first decrease in four years, said Seehofer.

Attacks on refugee accommodation fell by nearly 69 percent. With 312 reported attacks in the past year, numbers returned to levels that preceded the influx of migrants from 2015.

Overall, crime was down by 9.6 percent, helped by a big fall in immigration-related offences such as illegal border crossings.

Reporting by Laura Dubois, editing by Gareth Jones

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