The rally, dubbed “Day of the Kippah,” was the brainchild of Bonn’s mayor Ashok Sridharan and took place Thursday afternoon on Bonn’s market square in the shadow of the town hall and cathedral.
A large crowd of residents of all ages attended, many of them wearing kippahs, a flat, circular cap traditionally worn by Jewish men, reported the Rheinische Post newspaper on Thursday.
“The people of Bonn have given a signal today: against anti-Semitism and racism, for tolerance and open-mindedness,” tweeted the mayor. “Thank you Bonn!”
— Ashok Sridharan (@AshokSridharan1) July 19, 2018
The rally comes a week after Yitzhak Melamed, a visiting Israeli academic, was insulted and attacked in broad daylight by a 20-year-old German of Palestinian descent.
The philosophy professor had been wearing a kippah at the time of the attack, which the assailant reportedly repeatedly knocked from his head and shoved him while shouting insults in German and English including the phrase “No Jews in Germany!”
To make matters worse, police called to the scene initially mistook the highly distressed academic for the perpetrator, cuffed him and punched him in the face. When officers realised their grave mistake, the real offender was arrested and taken to a psychiatric clinic.
Melamed on Thursday expressed his support for the rally.
“It's a very important initiative that I support very much,” Melamed told Zeit Online. “The situation for Jews in Germany is concerning right now. Many people are scared to go outside wearing a kippah. That's unacceptable and it can't be allowed to continue.”
Germany’s Central Council of Jews in April advised members of the Jewish community against wearing a kippah in public as it could be dangerous.
“It’s enough,” Margaret Traub, head of Bonn’s Jewish community organisation reportedly told the rally, adding that the attack wasn’t isolated incident. “We won’t tolerate being treated with hostility for only one reason: that we’re Jewish.”
Mayor Ashok Sridharan also spoke at the rally, addressing remarks in English to Melamed, inviting him to return to Bonn to “see how open the people of this city are.”
The mayor, who was born in Bonn to an Indian father and German mother, called on Germany to continue to fight against a perceived resurgence in anti-Semitism.
“The fight against anti-Semitism must belong to political culture in Germany,” the Rheinische Post newspaper quoted him as saying. It’s not only about our historical responsibility, but also our responsibility for democracy in Germany.”