German newspaper Bild published a cut-out kippah skullcap on its front page Monday, urging readers to show their solidarity with the country’s Jewish community in the face of rising anti-Semitism.
The move comes after a leading government official warned Jews in Germany not to wear the traditional skullcaps in public because of an increase in anti-Semitic attacks across the country.
Felix Klein, the government’s anti-Semitism commissioner, told the Funke media group Saturday: “I cannot advise Jews to wear the kippah everywhere all the time in Germany.”
In response, Germany’s most popular daily newspaper asked readers to wear the cut-out kippah as a mark of solidarity with the Jewish community, and even posted a video on its website showing how to make it.
“Wear it, so that your friends and neighbors can see it. Explain to your children what the kippah is,” wrote editor-in-chief Julian Reichelt.
“Post a photograph with the kippah on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Go out onto the streets with it.”
Reichelt rejected Klein’s call for Jews to limit their use of the kippah.
“To that, there is only one answer: No, that must not be the case!” he wrote. “If it is so, and if it stays that way, then we have failed in the face of our history.”
He called on readers to support the Jewish community.
“If even one person in our country cannot wear the kippah without putting themselves in danger, then the only answer must be that we all wear the kippah,” wrote Reichelt. “The kippah belongs to Germany!”
There is mounting concern over the rise of anti-Semitism in Germany, and government figures point to an increase in anti-Semitic attacks.
Data released by the interior ministry reveals that anti-Semitic hate crimes rose by nearly 20% from 2017-18, while the number of physical attacks against Jews increased from 37 in 2017 to 69 last year.
Horst Seehofer, the interior minister, has said that around 90% of the reported incidents were perpetrated by supporters of far-right groups.
“This is a development that we have to confront, especially in this country,” Seehofer told a press conference in May. “This is a job for the police as well as the whole society.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel has also denounced anti-Semitic crime in Germany and called for a “zero-tolerance” approach to tackling it.
“People growing up today must know what people were capable of in the past, and we must work proactively to ensure that it is never repeated,” she said in January.
This story has been updated to reflect the correct number of physical attacks against Jews in Germany in 2018. It was 69.