Germany Mass Shooting Raises Worrying Question of How Safely Jews Can Still Live in Country, Says Jewish Leader

The leader of a Jewish organization in Germany said he worries for the safety of Jews and other minorities in the county following the latest attack carried out by a suspected far-right extremist.

At least nine people were killed and six were injured in the shootings in the city of Hanau on Wednesday night, which is being investigated as an act of domestic terrorism. The gunman appeared to have been motivated by racism and far-right views, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a statement on Thursday.

Germany's federal prosecutor Peter Frank said all nine victims were foreign and German nationals, CNN reported. Josef Schuster, the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, noted that it was the latest in a series of attacks by far-right extremists in the country in recent months.

In October last year, a right-wing gunman attacked a synagogue in Halle on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jews. In June, pro-migrant politician Walter Lübcke was shot dead by a neo-Nazi.

"This raises the worrying question of how safely minorities and people who are committed to them can still live in Germany," he said in a statement released on Thursday.

Schuster pointed the finger at authorities, adding, "The danger of growing right-wing extremism has been downplayed and neglected for too long. The police and justice system also often appear to have poor eyesight in the right eye." He has been contacted for additional comment.

Merkel told reporters on Thursday that the circumstances of the attack needed to be fully investigated, but there were multiple clues that racism and far-right views had motivated the gunman.

"There is much to indicate that the perpetrator acted on right-wing extremist, racist motives, out of hatred towards people of other origins, religion or appearance," Merkel said on Thursday.

Merkel pledged that her government would confront anyone who tries to use hate to divide Germany, adding, "Racism is a poison. Hate is a poison. This poison exists in our society and it is to blame for far too many crimes."

The suspect, identified by the Bild newspaper as 43-year-old Tobias R., was found dead at his home following a manhunt. The body of his 72-year-old mother was found nearby.

The rampage began at at the Midnight shisha bar in central Hanau at around 10 p.m. local time. The suspect shot people in the smoking section, according to Bild, then moved to the Kesselstadt neighborhood and opened fire at the Arena Bar & Cafe.

Authorities are looking at a manifesto that the suspect posted online, in which he called for the "complete extermination" of many "races or cultures in our midst," according to the Associated Press.

Hanau shooting
A forensic officer at the scene outside the Midnight hookah bar, one of two bars that were targeted by a gunman last night, on February 20, 2020 in Hanau, Germany. Lukas Schulze/Getty Images