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Germany encourages people to wear kippahs in solidarity with Jewish population

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Germany encourages people to wear kippahs in solidarity with Jewish population
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Germany is encouraging people to wear skullcaps to show solidarity with its Jewish population after a rise in anti-Semitic incidents.

Antisemitism commissioner Felix Klein originally warned Germany's Jews against wearing the caps, known as kippahs or yarmulkes, following the antisemitism spike in parts of the country.

Speaking to Funke media group, Klein said he could not "advise Jews to wear the kippah everywhere all the time in Germany".

Anti-Semitic incidents rose by 20% last year, according to Germany's interior ministry. This Friday is also al-Quds day - drawing the name from the Arabic word for Jerusalem, the day will be marked with protests across the weekend against Israel.

Klein's kippah comments were not taken lightly as Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said he was "shocked" by them, adding that such a suggestion was a "capitulation to anti-Semitism".

It also served as proof that "Jews are not safe on German soil," he said.

However, the spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Steffen Seibert, later stood against Klein's comments, insisting that it was important for Germany to safeguard the freedom of expression for religious populations.

He said: "The state must see to it that the free exercise of religion is possible for all... and that anyone can go anywhere in our country in full security wearing a kippah."

Klein also altered his comments in a later statement to Funke, this time encouraging all German citizens to wear the kippah on al-Quds day in solidarity with the Jewish population.

Germany's best-selling daily newspaper, Bild, jumped in on the conversation by printing a cut-out kippah for people to wear.