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Stadtkirche Church Photo Credit: Paul T. McCain [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)]
Stadtkirche Chuch.jpg
Stadtkirche Church Photo Credit: Paul T. McCain [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)]
Church News

Court rules anti-Semitic sculpture can remain on German church

by Tola Mbakwe

A German court has ruled that a 13th-Century anti-Semitic carving can remain on the wall of a church. 

Michael Düllmann, who's Jewish, launched a legal battle to have the sculpture removed.

He told local broadcaster MDR that having "Judensau" on the wall of Stadtkirche in Wittenberg would mean the church is promoting anti-Semitism. 

The image shows a rabbi and two other Jews with a pig. Carvings such as that was a way of mocking Jewish people in the Middle Ages, as pigs are deemed unclean under Jewish law. 

The church is also where theologian Martin Luther preached. The Protestant reformer is known to have produced anti-Semitic writings that were even quoted by the Nazis 400 years later. 

According to spokesperson Henning Haberland, the court found that although the sculpture would be offensive if viewed in isolation, "in the context in which it has been placed by the church it has lost its insulting character".

The regional appeals court of Saxony-Anhalt, in Naumburg took in to consideration the fact that the Church community installed a memorial on the ground next to the sculpture in the 1980s. The memorial pays homage to the six millions Jews who were killed during Nazi Germany. 

There is also an information board at the church, which puts the sculpture in a historical context. 

The church's pastor, Johannes Block, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper that having the sculpture on the wall of the church filled him "with shame and pain".

He added: "We are trying to deal with this difficult inheritance responsibly.

"The parish wanted to leave the carving in place as a reminder of the anti-Semitism of the Middle Ages, and of the anti-Semitic features of Luther's theology."

The ruling on Tuesday stated that Mr Düllmann could take the case to Germany's highest court.

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