BERLIN (Reuters) – German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Wednesday he was shocked by an anti-Semitic insult a Jewish musician said he had suffered at a hotel in Leipzig and that such behaviour had no place in Germany.
In a case that has hit national headlines, Gil Ofarim, 39, posted a video on social media on Tuesday evening accusing the Westin Leipzig hotel, in eastern Germany, of denying him service because he was wearing a Star of David necklace.
The hotel said in a statement it was concerned and alarmed about the incident and had suspended two employees.
“I am stunned by the anti-Semitic insult that the artist Gil Ofarim received,” said Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Wednesday evening, according the text of a speech.
“Many Jews in our country are exposed to this anti-Semitism every day. Leipzig is not a case on its own,” he said, adding Germans had to counter any and every form of anti-Semitism.
“Anti-Semitism has no place in our country.”
In Ofarim’s post which appeared to show him outside the hotel, the musician described how he was told to remove his Star of David pendant if he wanted to be served in a long check-in queue, and said: “I am speechless, I don’t know what to say.”
A police spokesperson in Leipzig said the description of the events by one of the hotel employees differed from the musician’s account and that he had filed a defamation complaint.
Several hundred people, some wrapped in the Israeli flag, gathered outside the hotel late on Tuesday to protest against anti-Semitism.
Politicians have warned that anti-Jewish sentiment is on the rise in Germany. The issue remains highly sensitive more than 70 years after the end of the Nazi Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews were killed.
Maas said Germany was spending more than 1 billion euros in the next four years on tackling right-wing radicalism, racism and anti-Semitism. “We must not look away if someone is subjected to an anti-Semitic insult,” he said.
(Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Mark Heinrich)