When German Federal Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger yesterday (July 19h) was on a visit to Jerusalem’s Buraq Wall with the German Catholic abbot of Old Jerusalem’s Dormition Abbey Nikodemus Schnabel, the pair was stopped by an Israeli employee of the ‘Western Wall Heritage Foundation’. The Israeli employee spoke to the abbot in English and said that while the site is open to people of all religions, his cross was “really big and inappropriate for this place”. She said that he needed to “respect this place”, and asked the abbot to “please put it inside”.
Initially the Abbot responded saying “This is very harsh”, before he stated that she was not respecting his religion. “No, you are not respecting my religion. You are hindering me from my human right. This is not a provocation. I am an Abbot. This is my dress, this is how I am dressed”.
The tour guide responded by saying “I am not telling you to do something with your dress code, I am telling you to do something with your cross”.
“The cross is part of my dress code”, said the Abbot. “I’m a Roman-Catholic abbot”.
The exchange was caught on video by a journalist from Der Spiegel that was travelling with the Minister and the Abbot. It may be viewed below:
Video showing an Israeli tour guide confronting a German Abbot asking him to remove his cross pic.twitter.com/YPtBgz6UOV
— GHMV2 (@GHMV2Research) July 20, 2023
In a later interview with Israeli media company I-24, the Abbot called the interaction a “very strange experience”, further adding that “I believe that Jerusalem is an open city for anybody, and for me, the future of Jerusalem is people from Jewish, Muslim, and Christian religions coming to pray in this holy city”.