Syrian President Bashar Al Assad starts Tuesday an official visit to Berlin, amid expected protests by German Jewish groups, said reports.
Some 150 members of the Berlin Jewish community and the Jewish students union have announced a protest rally for Tuesday afternoon at the site where a Holocaust memorial is to be built in central Berlin, said AFP.
Assad's visit to Germany, which will include talks with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, is to focus on peace in the Middle Peace and greater economic cooperation between Germany and Syria.
Reinhold Robbe, a Social Democrat (SPD) member of Parliament and vice president of the German-Israel society, said Assad's visit was a "an impertinence to all responsible people and not least to the Jewish citizens of our country."
Michael Friedman, vice president of the Central Council representing Germany's Jewish community, had Friday called on the German government to ask Assad to withdraw what he said were anti-Semitic statements.
Friedman told the daily newspaper Tagesspiegel: "I expect the German government to make it very clear to President Assad that it is not prepared to accept the use of anti-Semitic stereotypes, and that it asks him to publicly withdraw them and apologize."
Assad has recently made several statements that have been widely interpreted as anti-Semitic.
When Pope John Paul II was in Damascus in early May, Assad notably accused the Israelis of "trying to kill religions in the same way (the Jews) betrayed Jesus Christ, in the same way they tried to kill the Prophet Mohammad."
Assad ran into protests over such statements when he paid a visit to France late last month – Albawaba.com
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