(JTA) — A Syrian man on trial in Berlin for attacking a man wearing a kippah confessed in court to the assault and apologized to the victim.
The alleged assailant, identified as a 19-year-old Syrian Palestinian living in Germany since 2015, turned himself in two days after the April 17 attack. He is being tried as a juvenile.
During the attack, the assailant lashed the man with his belt and repeated the Arabic word for Jew, “Yahudi.” The victim, Adam Armouch, an Arab Israeli, filmed the attack on his cellphone; the video went viral on social media. Armouch was accompanied by a 24-year-old man also wearing a kippah who reported being accosted verbally by three men.
In court Tuesday, the defendant said he had not noticed the kippah until after striking Armouch, and that he started attacking after the Israeli man’s friend insulted him, according to reports. He also told the court that he had smoked marijuana prior to the attack.
“I’m very sorry, it was a mistake,” the defendant told the court, insisting he was not anti-Semitic. “I didn’t want to hit him, I just wanted to scare him.”
A verdict is expected early next week. According to The Associated Press, there are no pleas in the German court system.
Armoush, 21, who is not Jewish, told the Deutsche Welle news agency that he had grown up in an Arab-Christian family in Haifa, Israel, and said he put on the kippah as an experiment to see “how bad it is to walk Berlin’s streets as a Jew today.” The attack took place in the trendy Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood, which is popular among many Israelis living in Berlin.
The attack led thousands of Jews and non-Jews to don kippahs and participate in “Wear a Kippah” rallies in Berlin and other German cities to protest anti-Semitism.