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Berlin summons Iranian diplomat after Tehran-backed antisemitic attack

“We will not tolerate any foreign-controlled violence,” the German foreign ministry said.

The Zeiss Planetarium (bottom right) in Bochum, Germany, with the New Synagogue behind it. Credit: uslatar/Shutterstock.
The Zeiss Planetarium (bottom right) in Bochum, Germany, with the New Synagogue behind it. Credit: uslatar/Shutterstock.

The German Foreign Ministry sought answers from an Iranian diplomat after a German court convicted a 36-year-old on Tuesday of a November 2022 attack on a synagogue. The man, identified only as Babak J., sought to firebomb a Bochum shul, but after he found it too well-guarded, he instead attacked an adjacent school.

It wasn’t clear if the school, which reportedly sustained minor damage, was Jewish. The man was sentenced to two years and nine months.

“According to the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court, the planned attack on a synagogue in November 2022 in Bochum was carried out by an Iranian state agency. We have therefore summoned the Iranian chargé d’affaires to the foreign office,” wrote the German Foreign Office. 

“The fact that Jewish life should be attacked here is intolerable,” the office added. “We will not tolerate any foreign-controlled violence in Germany. The precise reasons for the judgment are now important for consequences and next steps, including at EU level.”

The court found that a former Hells Angels member, who had visited Iran, directed the man to attack the synagogue, “and that Iran was behind” the former Hells Angel, per the German dpa news agency.

The court suspected that the attack was linked to further violence at the house of a rabbi in Essen, Germany, in 2022. In February, the Jewish Chronicle reported that Iran sought to “map key Jewish figures around the world for Iran’s assassination squads.”

Between Oct. 7 and Nov. 9, antisemitic hate crimes in Germany increased 320%, according to the Berlin-based Department for Research and Information on Antisemitism (RIAS).

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