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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Sorrow and shock in Germany after Jehovah’s Witness hall shooting

Sorrow, solidarity and shock are among the sentiments being expressed in Germany as the country comes to terms with a mass shooting in which seven people died at a Jehovah’s Witness place of worship in Hamburg.

Several other people remain in a critical condition after a gunman fired a semi-automatic pistol in the worship hall at approximately 9pm local time on Thursday.

Authorities identified the perpetrator as Philipp F, a 35-year-old former member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses community who reportedly left the group about 18 months ago on bad terms. After the shootings, the gunman died when he turned the gun on himself.

Hamburg Mayor Peter Tschentscher described the news as “shattering” while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said at the site of the attack that he was left “speechless” by the incident.

Outside of Hamburg, people across Germany were shocked and saddened by the news.

Osman Oers is a founding member and imam at the House of One, a faith centre currently being built in the German capital of Berlin that will become a shared religious site between Jewish, Muslim and Christian faith groups.

All of us at the House of One regret all the deaths at Jehovah’s Witness community in Hamburg,” Oers told Al Jazeera. “We – Jews, Christians and Muslims in the House of One – feel for them and include them in our prayers. I wish the bereaved families and all those who had to witness this terrible event much strength and patience to overcome this horror.”

Daniel Egbe, a chemistry professor, said that the mass shooting was “a shocking event for Germany”.

“My initial assumption was that this was a racially motivated attack, which Germany has unfortunately experienced many times before, so I was deeply shocked when I heard that it was within a religious community,” said Egbe, who is also the founder of the migrant-focused organisation African Network for Solar Energy in Halle, central-eastern Germany.


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