German synagogue attack: shooter is ‘right-wing extremist’
Lone wolf gunman streamed live video of the deadly shooting on Twitch, echoing the Christchurch massacre in March
A deadly attack on a synagogue in the German city of Halle this week is believed to have been carried out by a right-wing extremist who streamed a live video of the attack online.
On Wednesday afternoon, two people were killed and two more were seriously injured after a gunman attempted to force his way into a synagogue in an attempted mass shooting.
Dozens of worshippers were inside the building celebrating the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. After failing to get in by shooting the locks on the front door, the gunman left the scene, the BBC reports. He then shot and killed a woman near the entrance to the adjacent Jewish cemetery.
He shot dead a second person after driving to a nearby kebab shop. According to police, an improvised explosive device was later found near the synagogue.
The suspect, a 27-year-old German identified by local police as Stephan B, attempted to flee the scene but was arrested after crashing his car. He is believed to have acted alone.
During the attack, he began a live stream on Amazon-owned video service Twitch, in which he was heard making anti-Semitic comments to camera before driving to the synagogue and opening fire. The video has since been deleted.
During the stream the suspect spoke in English, calling himself “anon” and describing himself as a Holocaust denier, The Independent reports.
“Feminism is the cause of declining birth rates in the west, which acts as a scapegoat for mass immigration, and the root of all these problems is the Jew,” he continued.
Deutsche Welle reports that the suspect had no previous arrests.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel attended a vigil in Berlin on Wednesday evening and expressed “solidarity for all Jews on the holy day of Yom Kippur”.
To some, however, words were not enough. Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said it was “scandalous” that the synagogue in Halle had not been protected by police “on a holiday like Yom Kippur”, AFP reports.
“This negligence has now been bitterly repaid,” he added.
The attack in Halle bears striking similarity to the Christchurch mosque shooting in New Zealand in March this year. In that attack, 51 Muslim worshippers were massacred by a far-right extremist in an attack that was broadcast on Facebook Live.
“Livestreaming enables extremists to amplify their actions, but even more so, bringing their supporters and others that they want to inspire on the journey with them,” said Oren Segal, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism told The Guardian.
“It is an interactive radicalisation tool that also helps spread content that may inspire the next attacker after them.”